Cover Story: Going to the MAT with Greg Roskopf

With the help of Greg Roskopf’s celebrated Muscle Activation Therapy, golfer Shane Bertsch looks to shoulder his next challenge.

Cover Story: Going to the MAT with Greg Roskopf

Veteran pro golfer Shane Bertsch knows pain. The 46-year-old Parker resident, who has toggled between the Web.com and PGA Tours during his 24-year career, suffered a broken metatarsal and ligament damage during the 2009 season and broke his hand in 2010.

Neither injury resulted from playing golf, but to accelerate his return to the game after both surgeries, Bertsch enlisted the services of Greg Roskopf, the developer and owner of Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT). Roskopf’s trademarked, counterintuitive approach has made devoted clients of hundreds of elite athletes—from John Stockton to Peyton Manning to DeMarcus Ware to Amy Van Dyken-Rouen—and thousands of active individuals in the 38 states and 14 countries served by certified MAT practitioners.

“He really is a miracle worker,” Bertsch says. “He certainly helped me. Even if I go to him without an injury, he gets me moving better and feeling stronger. He gets my body more lively and fired up.”

Golfer Shane Bertsch can be counted among the many professional athletes Greg Roskopf has helped including Peyton Manning, John Stockton, DeMarcus Ware, and Amy Van Dyken-Rouen.
Golfer Shane Bertsch can be counted among the many professional athletes Greg Roskopf has helped including Peyton Manning, John Stockton, DeMarcus Ware, and Amy Van Dyken-Rouen.

Bertsch says this in late March as he waits for an appointment at MAT headquarters in Englewood’s Inverness Business Park. Rows of weight machines shimmer in the sundrenched space, their red cushions all sporting the MAT logo. Behind large windows and closed doors, MAT practitioners assess and treat clients.

Bertsch, who has played in nine PGA Tour events this season, wants Roskopf to check his left shoulder for the third time in as many weeks. A “clicking, popping pain” nags him every time he takes the driver back. He “could hit irons and wedges all day.”

Roskopf lays Bertsch on a treatment table, having him flip every few minutes from supine to prone as he tests the flexibility of the golfer’s hamstrings, which indicates the relative strength or weakness of the supporting flexor muscles. Briskly walking from one side of the table to the other, Roskopf focuses on Bertsch’s shoulders.

The former football player moves his powerful frame from the golfer’s left arm to his right, pushing the extended limb with one or both hands while sensing the shoulder with the other; back and forth he goes, comparing resistance, range of motion, muscle contractile efficiency and strength.

Greg Roskopf and Shane BertschGreg Roskopf and Shane Bertsch
“Greg really is a miracle worker,” Bertsch says. “Even if I go to him without an injury, he gets me moving better and feeling stronger…I believe 100 percent in what he does.”

One of MAT’s foundations is that muscles that are tight or not firing correctly—for example, the ones in Bertsch’s shoulder—result from weaknesses in other muscles. In this case, the pectoral, trapezius, deltoid and infraspinatus. “You have to have your torque generators and stabilizers firing efficiently,” Roskopf says. “You want to avoid putting stress on the shoulder.”

Assessing and treating in the same hour-long session, Roskopf pushes and probes to activate the muscles that move Bertsch’s shoulder into the backswing position. “You have to consider all the muscles affecting the area,” Roskopf explains. “There’s a group that moves and a group that holds the bones. Their alignment has to be right. You have to understand biomechanics and do detective work.” 

That detective work occasionally requires medical assistance, so Roskopf recom-mends that Bertsch—who leaves feeling better but again reports pain while swinging the club—undergo an MRI.

The results reveal a tear in the labrum—the stabilizing cartilage disc attached to the shoulder socket—which also can weaken the attached ligaments.

Greg Roskopf and Shane Bertsch using Muscle Activation Techniques

MAT doesn’t fix tears; surgery does. “Greg told me right away by testing my muscles that something was wrong in the rotator cuff area,” Bertsch says. “I think if I’d been seeing him regularly, and not been away on the Tour, he would have assessed the weakness earlier and have avoided surgery.”

Bertsch considered just playing through the pain. But there’d be no time to rest it, since the PGA Tour no longer has an off-season. Besides, he says, “it wasn’t going to heal itself; I worked too hard to get back on the Tour not to get this fixed.” He underwent surgery to repair the tear and, although doctors said it would be six months before he’d play golf again, he’s shooting for four. He’s currently medically exempt. 

“I’m going to see Greg at the end of the month,” Bertsch tells me in mid-April. “He’s certainly helped me get back before. Once we get the mobility back, he’ll get me going faster, tell me which muscles are weak and need work. I know for sure he’ll help. I believe 100 percent in what he does.”

Roskopf has unquestionably earned that vote of confidence. He first put MAT into practice 25 years ago and hung his own shingle in 2000. He remains a consultant to the Broncos and Nuggets; he complements other medical specialists—physicians, physical therapists, surgeons, massage therapists, strength coaches, chiropractors and trainers—rather than competing with them.

He focuses on improving the communication pathways from the brain to the muscles, resulting in greater stability and strength and less pain and inflammation. “What I do is a neuromuscular overhaul,” he says. As a result, professional and
amateur athletes see him regularly to improve strength and flexibility, enhance performance and prevent injuries.

Greg Roskopf and Shane Bertsch using Muscle Activation Techniques

But injuries happen in sports. Those who have them seek him out, looking to get back quicker. When he was recovering neck-fusion surgery, Peyton Manning would fly Roskopf to Indianapolis every week and kept seeing him throughout his time in Denver. In 2014, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer worked with Roskopf to overcome an injured nerve in his throwing shoulder. And earlier that year, Roskopf performed a miracle with Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, whom he had previously helped recover from shoulder surgery to win gold in the 2000 Olympics.

Paralyzed after an ATV accident had severed her spine, Van Dyken-Rouen was prompted by Roskopf to visualize lifting up her leg. A light contraction followed, and over the last two years, she has made astonishing progress towards walking again.
Similarly astounding is Roskopf’s devotion to spreading the gospel according to MAT. He traverses the country to work with athletes and teach MAT classes.

When he’s not checking for muscle strength, Roskopf shows a weakness for golf at Colorado Golf Club. The 17 handicap loves the game, and he’s not above dropping more than a few hints that Shane Bertsch is just one many PGA Tour athletes who will benefit from Muscle Activation Therapies.

For more information on MAT:
303-745-4270; muscleactivation.com.

Greg Roskopf and Shane Bertsch on the May 2016 cover of Colorado AvidGolfer

This article appears in the May 2016 issue of Colorado AvidGolfer.

See more from The 15th Club: Our Annual Health and Fitness Issue:

Cover Story: Going to the MAT with Greg Roskopf

Become Golf Strong: A Strength Program for Golf Fitness

To Repair or Replace? Orthopedic Answers for Golfers

Consider the Alternatives: Nonsurgical Options for Pain

Practice Makes Present: How Yoga Can Improve Your Golf Game

Pelvis Lives! How to Strengthen Your Pelvis for Your Golf Swing

The Skins Game: Protecting Your Skin on the Golf Course

Garden of Gods Club Builds Wellness Center

Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com.