Myoskeletal alignment technique (MAT) is a type of bodywork which blends the principles of osteopathy and structural integration to relieve chronic pain, and to reduce the potential for the emergence of pain which could become chronic over time. This technique is often integrated into regular massage and bodywork sessions, and it can also be used alone to treat systemic problems. Practitioners of myoskeletal alignment technique can be found in many regions of the world. The focus of this technique is on back and neck pain in particular, since this type of pain is extremely common in the industrialized world.
The basic idea behind myoskeletal alignment technique is that back and neck pain are caused by fundamental problems with the musculoskeletal system. Tight, stressed muscles contribute to pain by limiting freedom of movement, while weak muscles provide inadequate support for the body. This in turn leads to posture problems, stiffness, and other symptoms which create an endless cycle of pain. By addressing the fundamental issues in the muscles and fascia, practitioners hope to eliminate the associated symptoms.
Structural integration and osteopathy both rely heavily on the manipulation of the muscles, fascia, and skeletal system with the goal of promoting general musculoskeletal health. The idea behind structural integration is that if someone's body can be aligned properly, his or her health problems can be dramatically reduced, because the body will work as a whole. Osteopathic practitioners share this idea, arguing that many chronic health conditions are related to musculoskeletal problems.
In a session of myoskeletal alignment technique, the practitioner works to lengthen tight, strained muscles with the goal of releasing tension and allowing those muscles to function more normally. At the same time, weak muscles are encouraged to grow stronger with the use of gentle, focused stretches which work those muscles. The muscles and fascia will also be manipulated to release pain and to encourage proper musculoskeletal alignment.
A session of myoskeletal alignment technique can sometimes alleviate neck and back pain considerably. Regular sessions can be used to address the early signs of pain, bringing the body back to a neutral state before it develops a vicious cycle of pain. This type of bodywork can be especially useful for people in stressful occupations, or for people with jobs which require repetitive motion, as these careers can place a great deal of strain on the musculoskeletal system.