MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — You know when you have a tight muscle in your neck or maybe a sore back? There’s evidence that muscle is tightening up because it’s protecting another muscle.

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There is also a technique designed to find those tight muscles in order to get to the weak ones, strengthening them to avoid injuries.

“We’re trying to find asymmetries that you would have from the right side of your body to the left side of your body,” said Rory Ford, a personal trainer at Life Time Fitness.

Muscle Activation Technique –also known as MAT — is a system designed to find muscular imbalances in the body.

Asymmetry can lead to things like pain, injuries with long recovery times, and a compromised overall physical performance.

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“When we find that asymmetry that means there’s a tight muscle there that is preventing you from getting into that full range of motion,” said Ford. “Tight muscles are actually protective muscles. They’re not the issue at hand. When we find that tight muscle, it’s just protecting another weak muscle somewhere else.”

Once an imbalance is found, Rory does a strength test to locate the exact muscle.

“Once that weak muscle is no longer weak, that tight muscle no longer has to be tight to protect that weak muscle.  Therefore, your range of motion becomes symmetrical on each side,” said Ford. “I can’t treat pain, and I can’t treat injury.  I can’t treat in general.  But what I can do is work on those asymmetries and imbalances you may have throughout the body.”

It has been around since the 1990s after being founded by Dr. Greg Roskopf. It has been used on pro teams like the Denver Nuggets, Denver Broncos and Utah Jazz.

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A full MAT evaluation can take up to a few hours. Cost-wise, it’s something that needs to be done with a personal trainer certified in MAT.