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Understanding the foundation of MAT

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If you are looking to boost your business by exploring more advanced forms of bodywork, consider massage therapist continuing education that will teach you the assessment methods and deep tissue massage techniques that serve as core components of Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques (MAT). Once you have completed your first massage training in this modality, chances are you will be excited to make the transition from the massage school relaxation model to the lucrative world of pain management. However, before looking too far into the future, it may help to begin with a simple question: What is myoskeletal alignment therapy?

If you have been practicing in the field of professional massage therapy and bodywork for any length of time, there is a good chance you are at least somewhat familiar with Erik Dalton, the pioneering manual therapist who began the process of developing MAT in the early 1980s. Around that time, Dalton — who trained with Ida Rolf at the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration — was working as a Certified Rolfer and started to find himself searching for a more integrative method of pain management using deep tissue massage techniques. Taking post-graduate workshops with Dr. Philip Greenman, a revered professor of osteopathic manipulative medicine at Michigan State University, Dalton began to form the foundation of MAT.

According to Dalton, the workshops he took with Dr. Greenman sparked a passion to create a modality that would combine deep tissue massage techniques, joint mobilization and the insights of neurologist Dr. Vladimir Janda, a renowned professor of manual medicine and rehabilitation. As Dalton began integrating all of these pieces into his work with chronic pain clients, he began to see such a high level of hands-on success that he wanted to share his findings with fellow massage therapists and bodyworkers. In 1998, Dalton released one of the industry’s first nationally approved home study courses, called “Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques (MAT).”

The overwhelming positive response to this well-researched system of deep tissue massage techniques inspired Dalton to open a teaching facility for MAT — the Freedom From Pain Institute in Oklahoma City. Today, Dalton serves as the executive director of the Freedom From Pain Institute and is the author of three best-selling massage therapy textbooks. Dalton also continues to teach the assessment strategies, deep tissue massage techniques and joint mobilization skills that make MAT so effective when it comes to managing pain. He currently offers four home-study courses, one continuing education class that takes place entirely online, plus several live seminars and workshops each year.

In the coming months, manual therapists who wish to learn more about these deep tissue massage techniques for successful pain management will be able to take advantage of four other MAT continuing education programs that will take place totally online. Massage therapists and bodyworkers who complete a MAT continuing education class can receive the credential of Certified Myoskeletal Therapist. Those who complete all four home-study courses, as well as the five online continuing education classes and 50 hours of live workshops can earn the credential of Master Myoskeletal Therapist (MMT), an expert-level certification that will be launched early next year.

Coming back to the definition of MAT, it may be appropriate to say that this dynamic system of deep tissue massage techniques is a more clinical method of manual therapy, which easily fits beneath the umbrella of both orthopedic massage and medical massage, as well as massage for sports therapy. In fact, continuing education classes on MAT are approved by the BOC for athletic training home study. For those practitioners who would like to work with clients who are suffering from chronic pain conditions, enrolling to learn the assessment routines and hands-on techniques of MAT can be one of the best ways to make the leap from practicing methods of massage that are more focused on relaxation to practicing a modality that was developed to help manage and alleviate the kind of pain that affects a person’s overall quality of life.

By now, it should be clear that pursuing an education in MAT can give you the advanced bodywork skills to boost your business, stimulate referrals and elevate your clients to the next level of health and well-being.

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