SUSAN WILLIAMS Commentary: A novel treatment for workplace injuries

April 4, 2005


Commentary A novel treatment for workplace injuries

Oh, my aching back! How often we express that lament, or perhaps it's an aching neck or shoulders or wrist pain. If you have escaped so far, you can surely identify a friend or co-worker who is hurting. Is it because we are aging or is something amiss, or both?

Businessmen and -women, young and not so young, sit in front of a computer for hours every day. Many jobs require long hours in a car or on planes. And, of course, there are numerous after-hours business functions, "standing around events." Although our work-related routines may not be strenuous manual labor, our joints and muscles are adversely affected by prolonged sitting (or slouching), typing, standing, etc. So, we take to the streets for a jog, or go to the gym and regularly use some form of aerobic apparatus. In all instances, we put the body through enormous repetitive stress.

When the inevitable aches and pains occur, we visit massage therapists, doctors, and many end up in the hands of an orthopedic surgeon. Some of the hardiest among us simply choose to "work through it."

Purely by happenstance, I discovered a relatively unknown therapy when my son sustained a shoulder injury playing rugby (not a mother's dream sport). After months of doctor visits, magnetic resonance images and failed physical therapy, the pain persisted and his range of motion was so impaired that he couldn't shoot a basketball. I shared my frustration with a trainer at my fitness center and he suggested that, before contemplating exploratory surgery, we consider muscleactivation techniques (MAT). The end of this story is that three treatments ended eight months of suffering. My son has been pain-free with full range of motion for five months.

MAT therapy was developed by Greg Roskopf, the biomechanics consultant to the Denver Broncos, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz and several high-profile elite athletes. The basic premise of this manual therapy is that the area of tension and pain is often a result of the body compensating for weakness in another area.

For example, foot mechanics can cause hip or even shoulder discomfort. MAT identifies and treats the real area of weakness, which restores the neuromuscular control that the body needs to stabilize the weak area, allowing the area of aching and/or tension to heal. Simply put, MAT treats the cause rather than the symptom.

According to local MAT guru Chad Graham, "MAT is designed to correct body alignment in order to prepare the body for what you are asking it to do. No matter what the activity, MAT addresses the weak links, allowing the body to function efficiently while minimizing pain."

After weeks of procrastination following my son's successful experience, I took my aching back to Chad for treatment. Although the outcome has not been as miraculous as my son's (ah, to be 17 again), the improvement is marked. For the record, MAT isn't for "sissies." Treatments can be painful. However, the resulting relief is worth it. Avoiding pain medication or surgery is worth it.

Roskopf's Web site lists only one certified therapist in Indianapolis. There are a handful of local personal trainers and physical therapists in training programs. This non-invasive treatment is not just for athletes. People with sedentary lifestyles or moderate workout regimens can stress muscles to the point of instability. If you are injured or suffering chronic aches and pains, there is a wealth of information available on MAT on the Internet. Have a look. You may decide to treat yourself like a million-dollar athlete!

Williams is president of Indiana Sports Corp. and a former longtime member of the City-County Council. Her column appears monthly. To comment on this column, go to IBJ Forum at www.ibj.comor send e-mail to
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