Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT)

Personal Fitness Trainers in Reading, Thatcham, Tadley, Wokingham, Fleet, Yateley, Sandhurst, Bracknell, Henley, Wallingford, Didcot, Newbury and Basingstoke. Personal Fitness Trainer Ryan Phillips provides one to one Personal Fitness Training, free fitness program, exercise program and workouts routines, free consultation, group fitness training in Reading, healthy eating, weight management and nutritional advice to help lose weight, tone up, get fit, build muscle, sports specific training in Reading, Tilehurst, Berkshire.

MAT® is a form of manual therapy designed to evaluate and treat muscular imbalances. Clients remain fully clothed during treatments.

MAT® looks at muscle tightness as a form of protection in the body. Weak or inhibited muscles can create the need for other muscles to tighten up in order to help protect and stabilize the joints.

MAT® gets to the root cause of pain or injury by addressing muscle weakness rather than muscle tightness. This helps to restore normal body alignment, thereby, decreasing pain, reducing muscle stiffness, reducing your risk of injury and improving your physical performance and fat burning potential.

Greg Roskopf MAT1

Watch this short video of the owner and developer of MAT®, Greg Roskopf, explaining the principles behind MAT®

Muscle activation refers to the process of ‘jumpstarting’ the muscle. The goal of Muscle Activation Techniques is to identify the position of weakness and the muscles that are inhibited, and then to activate these muscles – basically switch them back on.

"If you’re wondering whether MAT treatment is for you, then my story might help. I have a painful foot injury caused by my posture/gait. I’ve tried lots of physio and massage therapy to get me back to ‘normal’ but nothing so far has helped. I tried MAT, through Ryan, because the theory behind the treatment made a lot of sense to me. When I saw Ryan, he showed me that my left leg was 1cm shorter than my right, simply through my muscles being out of alignment (my words, probably not the words Ryan would use). This was likely to be the cause of my foot injury and the reason it wasn’t getting any better. By the end of two treatments my legs were the same length and my stability was much greater. I found that I was standing straighter and not twisting my legs to stand and walk more comfortably. There’s still some way to go, and I have some ‘prescribed’ exercises to do for a while but the treatment was so much more effective in such a short space of time that I now feel I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and that I’ll be back to being able to run and walk without pain and discomfort. I really think this is the sensible way to treat injury and body dysfunction and it’s working for me, so I’d urge you to give it a try. You have everything to gain!"


For a more simplistic approach to understand muscle function, compare the body to a car. The initiation of a muscle contraction occurs similarly to the way a battery initiates the starting of a car. Both rely on connections that transfer electrical energy to produce a reaction. The nerves that run from the spinal cord to the muscle are just like the cables that run from the ignition to the battery. When the key is turned in the ignition, the impulses transfer through the cables to the battery allowing the car to start. Similarly, in the body, when a message is sent from the brain, the input is transferred through the nerves to the muscles creating muscle contraction. Each muscle is independently innervated; therefore it can be seen as having many batteries, each connected by its own independent cables. When the body is functioning properly, with all batteries connected, each muscle will contract on demand and the body will function very efficiently.

Many times, due to factors such as stress, trauma or overuse, the neurological connections may become altered, creating a reaction in the body similar to that of loose battery cables in your car. When the brain sends a message for a muscle to contract, the muscle does not respond immediately, creating increased demand on other muscles to perform the desired movement. The result becomes what we know as compensation. Over time, these compensation patterns create altered alignment in the joint, leading to joint instability and abnormal wear on the joint surfaces. The end result becomes pain and eventually osteoarthritis. The progressive degeneration has been correlated with aging. If identified and properly addressed, it does not have to occur and with MAT® we can reverse this aging process.

"I can't say enough about the MAT therapy Ryan can provide for you. I was inactive for over 16 years due to a heart issue. When I finally wanted to be active again I ran into so many obstacles. From collapsed arches to angry IT bands, sore hip flexors, and massive muscle loss from knee surgery. Many would have given up a long time ago. But I kept at it, and luckily was in Ryan's boot camp. Our personal training sessions became MAT sessions out of necessity and I can say, with much happiness, that yesterday I ran a HALF marathon! To sustain running for over two hours is a huge accomplishment, and I have no doubt the MAT sessions are what got me through this long run with little pain. I'm committed to working on "fixing" the lingering issues through more intensive MAT therapy with Ryan."
Debra Bonson


While most therapies focus on treating the muscles with tension and/or pain, MAT® gets to the root of pain or injury by addressing muscle weakness rather than muscle tightness. MAT® views muscle tightness as a form of protection in the body. Weak or inhibited muscles can create the need for other muscles to tighten up in order to help stabilize the joints. The goal of MAT® is to identify the inhibited or weak muscles that are creating a protective response and then ‘jumpstart’ these muscles in order to improve their contractile capability.

If the tight muscles are stretched or massaged— without addressing the root cause, (the inhibited or weak muscles)—then we may have violated the body’s own protective mechanism. We must know that when we increase range of motion through modalities like stretching or massage, that there is also stability through that increased range. MAT® provides the checks and balances system to make sure that this happens. That is why MAT® is a great adjunct to all forms of exercise and therapy.

Mobility without Stability = Vulnerability

Ryan MAT1 

"I had been suffering from lower back pain for years on and off but for the last 6 months it was more on than it was off and really getting me down. With MAT, Ryan had me pain free within 30 minutes of my first session. Since then, Ryan has taught me the exact exercises to do to do if I overdo things, which feels very liberating. If you suffer from back pain or any other pain for that matter I would highly recommend you book in with Ryan and get it fixed." Chuck Henrich

MAT® can slow down or even reverse the aging process. If it is recognized that muscles are designed to stabilize and support the joints naturally; it must be understood that arthritic conditions and joint instability can be helped or prevented when muscles are prepared to function properly. All that is needed is to create proper connections between the brain and the muscles. Muscle Activation Techniques does this. It provides the ability for the body to function the way that it was designed to function. Just like with a dead battery, the muscles must be jumpstarted and the cables must be tightened before the muscle will function properly. In simplistic terms, through MAT®, muscles that have improper neurological connections are identified, then jumpstarted; creating the ability for the muscles to stabilize the joints and reduce joint stresses that lead to arthritic conditions. That is when the body becomes efficient and the related aches and pains are deterred.

"I've had bad posture for years due to my office job and this has taken its toll on my back. Pain and stiffness in the lower, middle and upper parts of my back and despite stretching and massage, the tightness always comes back. Ryan proved to me how the stretching was actually making my back muscles weaker and he got to work on activating all my weak muscles. I can honestly say that now my posture is much better, I can stand up straight with little effort and I actually feel taller. I would definitely encourage anyone with pain or tightness to get in touch with Ryan for some MAT treatment."
Richard Holmes


Another issue that results from when muscles are not contracting properly is that they don’t “burn” fuel optimally. Glucose uptake is solely dependent on muscle contraction; in other words, if your muscles are not contracting optimally then you’re not burning fuel properly and this will have a negative effect on your fat loss attempts even if you’re training hard and eating a healthy diet.

Ryan is the only MAT® Certified Specialists in Berkshire and one of only 9 others the UK. He has the specialised knowledge, skills and tools to assess you from head to toe, checking every muscle and joint in your body to identify any areas of muscle weakness/inhibition you may have. Then by performing low level isometric contractions or by using digital force application techniques (precise manual palpations) to those weak muscles the muscles can be “jumpstarted” switching them on again thus improving the range of motion of the joint instantly giving you pain free range of motion and at the same time releasing muscle tightness.

Ryan is in high demand and as a result allocates specific weekend clinics throughout the year to help people using MAT.

Bookings are currently being taken for the next MAT clinic in Reading on:


If you would like more information on MAT® or would like to book a slot for the next weekend clinic then contact Ryan today. Or if you'd like to be kept up to date with future MAT events then please click here.

Ryan treating1

"Besides improving my swing technique, I found my range of motion was very restricted and my body lacked stability during the golf swing. Therefore, I had to make a variety of compensations in my swing to counter these effects. I found MAT very beneficial as it addresses the joint instability and weakness. As my body gained more stability it released the tight muscles. As a result, my torso rotation improved ie I could swing more freely compared to before which gave me greater swing consistency and greater joint stability adding power which enabled me to hit one club longer. Moreover, I also felt I wasn't as tired after a game/practice session compared to pre-MAT."

Gearoid O'sullivan

"I decided to try MAT because to me it made perfect sense; it seemed to present the solution to the problem I had identified. Spending time with Ryan has only reinforced that perception. When Ryan tests a muscle, demonstrates a weakness and then fixes it, you can't argue with that. I'm still in the early days of applying the comprehensive rehabilitation programme Ryan prescribed, but I have no doubt it will help me enormously - both with the problems I knew about and the ones I didn't!"
Andy Large


"I'm a keen golfer, playing currently off 20.7, on a path to, hopefully, 18 or less by the end of the current season. I used to continually revert to the exact same numerous 'swing faults' every season - mainly a really stupid insistence on a 'chicken wing' swing, with my right elbow pretty much all over the place. Ryan and I started to work on MAT (muscle activation techniques), in a nutshell, almost all my muscles were either totally, or partially, inhibited. After 3 of circa 5 reactivation sessions, I feel like I have a new body and my swing is now very stable and orthodox. The golf swing is a major variable but, to be honest, my general well being and posture is almost as important. I can be reached at if you would like to chat about Ryan's MAT services and the associated benefits."

Matty Ryan

"Can't believe how much better I feel today after our session yesterday. You know how important this weekend is to me and my success of training for and completing my first half marathon on Sunday will be possible because of your expertise, guidance and MAT work. I said yesterday, and I'll say it again, MAT has changed my whole perspective of having a fit, working body. I'm just so thankful I've found you, and have someone so dedicated to work with moving forward. It sucks I had to become injured to learn this valuable lesson, but I'm thankful nonetheless! Thanks for everything Ryan Phillips :)"
Debra Bonson


"I had been suffering from pain in my right Achilles tendon and calf for some time and it was getting progressively worse. By the time I went to see a Physio I was in constant pain not just when I was running, despite stretching out my muscles before and after every run. The Physio said that I was very close to snapping my Achilles it was so tight and treated me with a combination of massage, ultrasound and stretching exercises. These gave me an initial improvement, however, before long my symptoms of pain and tightness just seemed to be getting progressively worse with my Achilles and calf becoming tighter and more painful even though I was doing even more stretching. Eventually I had to stop my running, due to the pain becoming unbearable.

I booked a Muscle Activation Technique (MAT) session with Ryan and within this first session I noticed some improvements, less leg pain and not as much tightness. Ryan found lots of muscles around my hips that were not working properly and explained that when muscles are inhibited due to trauma or injury, other muscles tighten up to compensate for the weak ones. This all made so much sense, as I was involved in a terrible bike accident almost 30 years ago where I suffered damage to my ankle/leg, so much so that the doctors said I’d never be able to exercise properly again! Luckily I did manage to eventually get my leg working again so that I could continue to exercise but my body had been compensating for this injury for all these years and things were just tightening up protect these weaknesses from the injury. This is why the stretching and the physio I was having, wasn’t working.

I’ve been seeing Ryan once every fortnight for about 14 weeks now and during that time I’ve been able to get back to my running at least 3 times a week and can now do so, not only completely without pain but for longer, 50 minutes at a time instead of 30! Thanks to Ryan’s MAT treatments I have eliminated all the weaknesses in my legs which has resulted in me being able to finally do my running pain free.

Thanks Ryan for helping me get back to doing what I love to do – RUN! : )"
Caroline Sowter

"I decided it to give the MAT sessions a try. A month onwards and the sessions have helped tremendously. Some results were virtually instantaneous, while others are taking a bit more patience! However, the overall outcome is that I became able to confidently perform the resistance routine that Ryan formulated for me. Plus, now I can properly complete my workout, without the fear of injury, I am seeing steady, week-on-week weight loss and gain in strength. Not only that, but I have definitely experienced an easing in the general discomfort to which I had become accustomed."
James Bishop


"Im a fire fighter who has been struggling with lower back problems. It was keeping me from carrying out my full duties, stopping me from taking part in all the sport that i've always done and just basically hampering my life in a way that i had never experienced before. During this difficult 9 months i had seen physiotherapists (both private and NHS), received treatment from an osteopath, been scanned by an orthopedic specialist, had acupuncture treatment and also seen an occupational health advisor all of whom failed to diagnose and successfully treat my problem. I needed someone who was going to have vast experience and an ability to use intelligent methods of working. I had developed serious sciatic symptoms down through the legs and had totally lost faith in the advice i had been given.

Since our first session of MAT i have not looked back. When you've had a long term serious problem like mine it takes a lot to go into a gym and do things that you fear may hurt but thats exactly what i do and our sessions are still on going. Ryan's experience and knowledge puts you right at ease and he has not let me down once due to his careful but progressive methods. Each session i get improvements and because of his attention to detail he knows exactly what i need to work on most and how he wants to do it.

Im on the cusp of returning back to full duty now and i have a lot to thank Ryan for. He is one of the most forward thinking trainers i have come across and you really get the full package with him. He has the answers for anything i throw at him and i would recommend him to anyone."
Jay Avery