Postural problems, muscular pain and injuries can come about as a result of muscular imbalances within the body. The figure below shows examples of equal tension and unequal counter tension. The blue dots on the image of the body below show where it is important to keep the muscles healthy and strong, or were overuse and muscle chronification (pain lasting longer than 3 months) may occur. I often use these images with my clients to explain how important it is to maintain muscular balance in order to avoid muscle loss by keeping strong and healthy.
Muscular imbalances can also be congenital, such as spinal scoliosis, lordosis and kyphosis, knocked knees, bowed legs, etc. Yet counter tensions occur naturally during everyday movement and physical activity.
In order to move any part of our body we need at least two muscles to do the work. We refer to these as antagnostic-agonistic pairs. For example, when we bend the elbow, this movement is instigated by the bicep muscles (agonist/tension) and opposed by the tricep muscles (antagonist/counter-tension).
If we over use muscles or continually adopt poor posture, eventually a greater counter tension will occur between antagonist-agonist pairs. In time, this will negatively impact the supporting bones and joints and often results in pain (e.g.: medial or lateral epicondylitis; calcifications at the elbow etc.).
The good news is that through preventative strength training (PST), muscular imbalances can easily be avoided. PST involves frequent, low volume, high intensity strength training typically involving 5-10 exercises (depending on each person’s individual needs) once or twice a week. These exercises target both muscles that support good posture and functional strength.
In practical terms, this means that you would do some form of resistance work such as body weighted exercises or lifting weights such as the chest press, lateral pull, and abdominal/core work. You would spend approximately 60-150 seconds on each movement until you feel you couldn’t do anymore. So the movements are relatively slow pace. This is an efficient, safe and time friendly approach to getting stronger and being healthy.
In worst cases, muscular imbalances can be managed and corrected through proper remedial strength therapy (RST). More good news is that weaker muscles respond positively and very quickly to both PST and RST, which will inevitably help to reduce musculoskeletal pain.
For more information visit: www.vis-therapeia.co.uk or contact Chris on 07859344637