Flexing with Brant Amundson, the “Muscle Mechanic”

December 1, 2014

Meet “muscle mechanic,” Brant Amundson, who is a posturologist, muscle activation technique specialist and neuro-kinetic therapy practitioner in New York City, who also is a Salonpas user!  Find out more about this unique pain management specialty in the Salonpas interview:headshot

Why do you call yourself the “muscle mechanic”?

Seven years ago I took my first class toward becoming a muscle activation techniques (MAT) specialist with the founder of MAT, Greg Roskopf. He said that we were in training to be ‘muscle mechanics.’ I liked the sound of it and the implication. As MAT specialists, we are trained to look for bio-mechanical dysfunction and correct it. For example, if we find that a client is limited in hip flexion on their right leg, we would muscle test all the right hip flexors, such as the psoas, iliacus, and rectus femoris to name a few, and then activate the muscles that test weak. Very often the result is improved strength, flexibility, and function with a lot less pain.

What is posturology and how can it help build strength?

Posturology was developed mainly by French orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Bernard Bricot. It is a unique modality designed to instantly align the posture and over time permanently correct posture.

How does posturology work?

I’m glad you asked. In order to keep us upright and resisting gravity on just two feet, the brain needs information. Since the feet are the body’s foundation and the eyes serve us best when level on the horizon, it should be no surprise that the information they send to the brain is extremely important when it comes to posture.

Bricot based posturology on studies performed by Jean Pierre Roll in 1986. By inhibiting eye and foot muscles with mechanical vibrations, Roll was able to create major postural shifts in the body. The shifts would correspond with the placement of the vibration. For example, when the vibration was placed under the eye the persons head and body would shift backward. When placed on eye muscles above the eye, the person’s head would shift down and forward. The same would happen with the feet. When vibrating the forefoot, the person would shift back and vice versa.

In posturology, we use a thin insole to stimulate the center reflex zone of the foot with a frequency of 90 Hz. This creates a leveling effect on the pelvis and shoulders. Then using specific exercises and a magnet protocol, we improve eye convergence, i.e., (the ability to cross your eyes.) This further levels the pelvis and shoulder girdle. Basically we improve sensory input from the eyes and the feet to improve posture. Sensory input equals motor output.

Other factors that affect posture are the jaw, and surgical scars. If someone has missing teeth, metal in their mouth, a cross bite or a lingual dysfunction, these and many other issues can and often do affect posture. In posturology, we use the www.functionalactivator.com to correct the jaw in three planes of space.  Surgical scars can pull on fascia and cause postural shifts, pain and muscle and joint dysfunction. We use essential oils to heal pathological scars.

Who is your typical client?  What types of pain issues do they come to you to help with?

I really don’t have a typical client. Currently I have a client with Parkinson’s. We use posturology to help ease the stress of resisting gravity, and MAT and NKT neuro-kinetic therapy to deal with muscular inhibition. I’ve worked with stroke patients to great effect, I’ve helped people rehab from hip replacements and  I‘ve helped people overcome sciatica, whiplash, shin splints, piriformis syndrome, rotator cuff impingement and IT band syndrome, etc. If their issue has a neuro-muscular and/or has a musco-skeletal component, I usually can help. I also have clients that don’t have any major issues and they come in on a regular basis just to work-out and stay fit.

What is a typical personal training session like?

 I use Posturology, MAT and NKT with all of my personal training clients. Therefore I have an intimate knowledge of how their body functions on a postural/neurological level and also a bio-mechanical level. That allows me to choose the proper exercise and intensity to suite their specific needs. As a lifelong athlete and personal trainer for over 25 years I also have a wide variety of exercises to choose from. A typical training session will always include eye exercises and brain gym exercises and could include any of the following; isometrics, functional movement exercises like burpees, squats or lunges, Pilates work on the floor or the reformer, good old fashion weight training like dumb bell bench presses, kettle bells, boxing, stability ball training or jump rope. I like to mix it up and keep it moving so no one gets bored.

Why did you expand beyond personal training to also focus on muscle activation techniques?

Ten years ago, I was falling apart physically. My body was a wreck and my energy was low. I had pain and tightness ping ponging around my body, and I couldn’t raise my left arm over my head because it was so tight and painful. Then I had my first MAT session and I was hooked. After the session I could swing my left arm around like a women’s soft ball pitcher without any pain. I realized how much MAT could help my clients and other people that were suffering like me. Then I found posturology which also had a huge impact on the quality of my life. So I learned that too. Each of these modalities helps inform me as trainer prescribing exercise to people. I can’t imagine doing one without the others. Posture first. Muscular Integrity second via MAT and NKT. Then the proper exercise based on that persons posture, neuro-muscular function and goals.

What type of diet do you recommend your clients follow?

Because I’m not a nutritionist I do not recommend diets. I can only tell people what works for me. Recently I went on Dr. Mark Hyman’s 10 day detox diet and lost 20 pounds. Basically I’ve cut way down on sugar, alcohol, bread, pasta, rice, cereal, etc. and increased my vegetable and good fat intake, (nuts, avocado, coconut oil, almond butter.)

Do you have any experience with the Salonpas products?  If so, what is your experience?

My wife and I both use Salonpas. As dancer that doesn’t come in for treatment with me nearly enough she loves to use Salonpas in the interim. She likes that it’s warm it helps reduce the pain significantly and improves mobility. She also likes to use it while she’s dancing because the pad stays secure. I use it the same way. If I tweak my back or my neck and can’t get a MAT treatment right away I slap on Salonpas for pain relief and increased mobility. I think it’s an excellent product.

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