Over the past decade Brandon O’Connor has been able to help a wide variety of people recover from nagging injuries, improve their health and well being, and achieve personal goals. Thirteen years of professional experience have allowed me to create the Muscle Restoration System which utilizes a combination of Muscle Activation Techniques and Strategic Resistance Training in order to help people recover from injuries, gain strength and improve life.
1:15 Brandon’s Muscle Restoration Journey: Brandon has a background in personal training and exercise. He observed that some clients improved with exercise and others improved slowly, complaining of muscle pain. In his research to figure out why, he discovered Muscle Activation Techniques and the philosophy behind it. Everything about it made sense.
2:58 Muscle Activation Technique: It is different from physical therapy, myofascial release, and trigger point therapy. The assessment is a specific and systematic range of motion examination to see how the body is moving and how the different systems are interrelated. This reveals whether the problem is at the site of the issue or if it is originating at another point in the body, which would need to be addressed first. Muscle tightness is a symptom of muscle weakness or the inability to generate optimal tension on the other side of the joint. Rather than just trying to relax the tightness in the muscle, the capability of the muscle is addressed. The body responds by allowing more range of motion.
5:13 Low Back Pain/Tight Hamstrings: If your hamstring feels tight, it is most likely the muscles on the other side of the joint which are weak. If you cannot flex your hip, it may not be that your hamstring or lower back is tight. It is potentially the hip flexor muscles and/or abdominal muscles which might be weak. They can test for contract-up capability in nearly any muscle that crosses any joint in the body.
7:00 Full Body Exercises: Integrated exercises, like squats and deadlifts that require the body to rapidly generate tension across multiple muscle groups, are awesome. However, when one point of the body is weak, the rest of the body must compensate, and they are not designed for that purpose. In order to get the benefit from integrated movement, all of the components need to work well. Muscle activation technique ensures that all of the components operate properly.
8:36 Addressing Muscle Weakness: Weak muscles are strengthened through isolated isometric exercise or isolated joint movements; possibly with machine based work.
9:06 Potential for Injury: Unless weak muscles are addressed, general exercise activity makes the strong muscles and tissues stronger and the weak muscles and tissues weaker. This impacts motion and leads to chronic pain or potential injury.
10:20 Integrated System Thinking: It is all about root cause analysis. Brandon’s clients see him for chronic problems, which are most often not the area where they are having the most dysfunction. Brandon has seen clients with back, shoulder or neck pain and have the source be from the foot or lower leg. Sometimes lower leg conditions, like chronic planters fasciitis, is from a weakness in the hip or trunk.
11:54 The Warm up: The best way to prepare the body for exercise or muscle stress is to generate tension in the muscles using low grade isometric exercises. These would be components of the full movements planned in the day’s exercise routine. It shortens the muscles you will be using in a very gentle fashion.
13:01 The Misunderstood Muscle: The muscle generates tension to move and stabilize joints. The best way to prepare the muscle to generate tension to move the joints is to generate tension and move the joints in an isolated and gentle way.
16:13 Increasing Joint Mobility: You don’t want joint mobility without joint stability. Mobility without stability equals vulnerability. Muscles need to be able to generate optimal tension and control in all of the joint end range positions you require of it. For people recovering from injuries, in chronic states of inflammation, or with chronic pain, increased mobility has a greater risk than reward.
18:16 Get Professional Help: The more active body requires more maintenance to maintain the integrity of your body.
18:53 Foam Rolling: Increasing mobility and decreasing tension are the goals of foam rolling. The body is increasing tension in a certain area as a measure of protection, to reduce joint mobility. It is expressing that there is an issue in a related part of the body. With foam rolling you may get temporary symptom relief or you may temporarily increase joint motion without stability, making the joint vulnerable. The benefit of foam rolling and massage has to do with relaxation; shifting from fight/flight to a more parasympathetic dominance.
21:34 MAT Rule of Thumb: When muscles feel tight, strengthen the muscles on the other side of that joint. Muscles that feel like they are stretching when you move into positions are often not the muscles at issue. It may be the muscles on the other side of the joint.
22:08 Vagal Nerve: The vagal nerve is important in the regulation of digestion, blood pressure, heart rate and helps the body shift from the fight/flight state to the parasympathetic. Because of its great impact to the body, Brandon has been exploring ways to access the vagal nerve using muscles and tissues. Connections are found in the tongue, voice box, and larynx. He has been working with clients to increase the tension generating capability of these muscles.
24:22 Testing the Integrity of the Vagal Nerve: The muscles run so deep inside the neck, that massage does not reach. To test for weakness in the vagal nerve, he uses Therapy Localization. You test the strength in another portion of the body, which has tested as strong, while triggering activity to indicate whether there is a weakness. If suddenly the muscle is weak, it indicates a weakness in the triggering muscle grouping. He tests both sides of the body to determine if it is a one-sided weakness. This is an effective test for hard to reach muscle groupings. This technique has been used for years on TMJ and other jaw issues.
29:07 Stimulating the Vagal Nerve: Functional medicine recommendations for stimulation of the vagal nerve are: low humming, singing, gargling, and other methods to create muscle stimulation.
29:52 Benefits of Muscle Activation Techniques: It is the ultimate way to prepare the body for any movement based activity. It improves the movement capability of your body so you can live a more comfortable life. The muscle’s generation of tension to move and stabilize joints, plays a major role in health. Without optimal muscle tension generation, chronic muscle tightness and muscle weakness can create inflammation.
31:00 The Brain and Muscles: The brain devotes more motor neurons to the muscle system than any other system in the body.
32:42 Brandon’s Morning Routine: Brandon starts his day journaling his gratitude. Gratitude pushes aside stress, fear, and anxiety. He meditates, prays and does some deep breathing, maybe with some heartrate variability training. He follows a low carb ketogenic diet, so he eats a high fat breakfast.
37:05 One Herb, Nutrient, Botanical, or Supplement: Brandon would not want to be without mineral water. He finds it is energizing, helps with focus and is good way to get minerals.
38:57 One Health Tip for America: Advice falls on deaf ears. Money, however, is a motivating factor. Brandon would like to see a hefty tax credit every year for those of us who have good blood work and BMI numbers.