Muscular activation techniques. The “miraculous” muscle technique revolutionizing the NBA and American football


The “miraculous” muscle technique revolutionizing the NBA and American football

I am going to tell you something very simple to introduce this report:

Here was a woman who said to her son every morning: “How did you sleep?” and he always said well, and one morning she said to him:
“Son, you always say well, you always answer me in the same way, and he replied:” Mom, you always ask me the same questions. “.

I’ll present you a report and then I’ll tell you what this story has to do with the case of the great manual therapist Greg Roskopf.

Greg Roskopf

In the late 1980s, Greg Roskopf began to wonder why some athletes he worked with as a medical consultant at Fresno State were misaligning their nervous systems and getting injured, while others were able to achieve optimal levels of performance despite fatigue. He began studying the biomechanics of the human body and researching specific limitations and muscular imbalances in athletes. This was the seed of what is now known as MAT – Muscle Activation Techniques – which have been in use for a couple of decades in the United States and which challenge the more traditional, centuries-old methods of muscle and joint training, treatment and recovery (and which Kinetics and BMT partly derive from MAT).

Muscle activation techniques, based on the identification and correction of these muscular imbalances, have been a fact of life among elite American athletes since Roskopf put them in the shop window, and we as manual therapists have neglected to work with neuromuscular function and connection.

The Denver Broncos, the Utah Jazz or the Denver Nuggets, among other high performance teams and athletes -many of them, with muscle activation therapists- embrace these new techniques, whose revolution consists in not considering muscle tension as the main factor of pain or illness, but as an alarm from our body that warns us that something is not working properly.

“Precise palpations in direction and strength”.

When a muscle is weakened and not working properly, the brain, as a short-term protective measure, tends to inhibit the weak area or muscle and it is the nearby muscles or tissues that take over the function of the protected muscle and double its effort. This, in the long term, can lead to problems of contractures or excessive muscle tension in the area where there is a double workload and which ends up manifesting itself in annoying pain. Thanks to these techniques, the muscular imbalance is located through a series of tests and work is carried out on the muscles that do not generate the strength they should. This work is carried out by means of “very precise and specific palpations in direction, pressure and strength in the muscle tendon, which cause a better communication between the weak muscle and the brain”, explains Pedro López, a specialist in muscle activation at the Pío XII Hospital in Madrid.

The “miracles” of Greg Roskopf
“You will never be able to walk again”. All the doctors agreed on the same diagnosis. Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, a six-time Olympic gold medallist in swimming, was confined to a wheelchair with a spinal cord injury after a quad biking accident. When she went to visit Greg Roskopf, MRI in hand, her life changed. The image showed that the spinal cord was not completely broken. There was still a part of it connected. “Let me try to work with you,” Roskopf told her. “I know you can’t move, but right now I just want you to think about bringing your leg towards my hand. Draw it in your head.” Though without seeing or feeling it, Van Dyken contracted his muscle. There was a connection between the nervous system and the muscular system. A friend who accompanied her saw the contraction and had to leave the room in excitement.

This is how Nicki Jhabvala tells in The Denver Post how Amy Van Dyken’s life changed during one of her visits to Greg Roskopf at Craig Hospital in Englewood, USA. After the MRI test, both Amy and her partner – former American football player and Denver Broncos coach Tom Rouen – believed Roskopf was the only one who could change the bleak prognosis of the previous doctors. Years earlier, the guru of muscle activation techniques himself had helped her overcome problems following surgery and she was able to compete in the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Today, Amy Van Dyken is showing her progress in her recovery on social media. With the help of muscle activation specialists at Craig Hospital, Van Dyken is able to progress and slowly gain strength in her damaged lower back. What once seemed impossible – to walk again – is, with effort and patience, becoming an established reality.

Although less emotionally charged, Greg Roskopf has also turned his techniques into short-term “miracle” treatments that have helped elite athletes resolve their physical problems. A striking example is the case of Daniel Bryan, an American WWE professional wrestler, who went from 50% strength in his right arm to 80-85% in a few weeks thanks to muscle activation techniques and was able to return, against all odds, to the ring, overcoming an injury that required surgery. Peyton Manning, one of the greatest American football quarterbacks in history, also experienced a brilliant recovery of his neck, after four surgeries, thanks to treatment with muscle activation techniques. “There were weeks when my arm was dead. Roskopf was instrumental in rebooting my body,” Manning himself explained in Sport Illustrated magazine.

So many other American football players, hockey players or NBA players have gone through Roskopf’s hands and techniques. His innovation translates into new ways of understanding the body, which is why so many top sportsmen and women have come to rely on him.

Palmer played the Superbowl thanks to the Roskopf
method. The success of these techniques is also fuelled by word of mouth. New York Giants football player Rashad Jennings tried the benefits of MAT techniques and later advised teammate Odell Beckham to use Roskopf to overcome the hamstring problems that kept him off the field. The result, like many others, was astounding. Beckham improved markedly from his ailments and cut time and hardship out of his recovery. Another “fellow” player, Carson Palmer, now quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals, was able to play in the Superbowl – the biggest game in American football – after Roskopf “woke him up” from the nerve that kept him out of numerous regular season games.

Fans in Europe

More and more people in Europe are joining this scientific concept, based on the individual study and knowledge of the human body. Gorka Ipinza, a specialist in biomechanics and exercise mechanics, is the founder of Activation Muscular Training, one of the pioneering centres in these techniques and the first to be set up in the north of Spain, specifically in Guipúzcoa. It was his teacher and later colleague Lucas Leal – now manager of the center – who initiated him and told him about the techniques he had learned directly from Greg Roskopf.

“The first thing that struck me was the common sense with which the activation process is carried out. I realized that this technique could fill that big gap that existed in the world of physical preparation or health”, explains Gorka. By analyzing the connection between the muscular system and the nervous system, it was possible to understand “the deficiencies or difficulties that many people could have despite putting all their efforts into training, in principle adequate, and not achieving the set objectives”.

From there, the idea arose to open a center focused on these new techniques, adapted both for sportsmen and women and for anyone concerned about their good functioning and muscular balance. “The objective will be the same for everyone. Joint stability and proper health will always be the main objective”, concludes Gorka.

Even so, MAT experts are quick to make a clear message: the main objective of these techniques is to improve the ability of the musculature to contract efficiently, not to treat pathologies of the musculoskeletal system. Activation is based on preparing the musculature to function in the most appropriate way and to limit muscular imbalances. Thanks to this, multiple benefits are produced: increased muscle power, greater resistance, more joint stability, increased mobility and flexibility, better coordination. This, in turn, leads to further benefits: reduction or disappearance of pain, reduction of tensions or contractures, reduction of inflammation and, in essence, a more fluid and discomfort-free mobility.

We at MAT offer two therapies that work with these concepts:

And if I am a masseur, how can these techniques help me?
BMT and kinetics (MAT) can  help you:

  •  To work on the pain that occurs with the client’s movement, (problems when bending over, turning the head, walking …)
  • Chronic pain problems
  • Joint instability
  •  Muscle imbalances 
  • Poor muscular function (whether you are an athlete or not). We all need to move
  • Communication problems between the muscular system and the structures of the nervous system related to pain and movement

And will you think what the story of the mother and the son has to do with Greg R’s work?
In the story of the child and the mother, the mother always asked the same question, and therefore the normal thing was always to have the same answer, and that is why her son tells her that he answers the same thing, so that the mother could obtain a different answer, the question should be the same. And it’s partly what Greg R.
Greg works and tests the muscle, and the muscle group to understand what type of communication there is between the muscle and the central nervous system, the therapist sends the question or specific stimulus to have the response of the nervous system through the muscle to stimulate not only the muscle but the areas of the brain that manage both motor control and pain.


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