First Posted on Feb 23, 2013 by Vivienne Bartle
If you have followed any of my blogs, the Cinergee Facebook page or are a client, then you will know I am constantly referring to muscle imbalances. Muscle imbalances are one of the main causes of physical pain. We are generally born with well-balanced bodies and in an ideal world, it would be wonderful to think that we could stay that way. Rarely we do, as we go throughout our lives we do daily activiities, sport, or exercises that consistently favor one side or group of muscles over another.
If we look at how we live today in 2013, we sit far too much compared to the amount of movement we do. Think of your daily routine; how much time do you spend on the computer (anything like me way too much), sitting when you eat, drive, fly in a plane or when you visit or socialise with friends, attending meetings or trainings, watching TV, reading a book, knitting or any other craft activity, doing office work or any regular daily activity required for your work where you sit. Today we generally sit more than any other activity especially compared to other generations of 30, 50 or 100 years ago. When I was growing up, if it was daylight we were outside playing, making up games, climbing trees, feeding animals, walking over the local countryside, anywhere and everywhere except inside the house sitting down. But, sitting is only part of the problem.
If we look at the activities we do on a daily basis, we can find many that create muscle imbalances things like; using the same arm to brush our teeth or hair, the same arm to write or eat, or………..in today’s world, use of the mouse. We get out of the car the same way which is different to how we get in (both with emphasis on certain muscles). As women, when we get in the car – dragging our heavy handbag with us – we then twist and rotate the spine with the heavy weight in front of us to drop it on the passenger seat (big no-no). We overuse the same muscles when we play racquet sports, golf, hockey, cricket, football, basketball or netball just to name a few. We use the same muscles to do daily chores like washing up, wiping and putting away dishes etc, how we use the vacuum cleaner, cooking, doing the laundry or other cleaning activities. We step off on the same foot each time, climb the stairs with the same dominant leg, or whichever has not had an injury. If you drive an automatic car, you only use your right leg to do all the activity, if you drive a manual car, you continuously use your left arm for changing gears (this can be one factor as to why women particularly as they get older, have problems with this shoulder).
Since all this occurs on a daily basis or at least a regular basis, the same muscles are being used continuously over and over again, while others are being under-worked. So you can easily imagine how the stronger muscles without much resistance from the weaker ones, can pull your hips, spine or other joints slightly out of alignment. You can also see how easily this works in a forward/backward scenario as well. We do most of our movements and activities in a forward motion such as driving, pushing a supermarket trolley, working at a computer and even mowing a lawn. All this can lead to little niggles of pain that are sharp and catch your breath for a short period of time and then go away (and you think the problem has gone with it) but it comes back with a vengeance, stops you completely in your tracks and disables you with the muscle spasms causing severe pain.
As a muscle therapist, I constantly have my arms to the front of me as I work, but if I didn’t perform backward-type stretches and exercises to counteract this, then the muscles at the front of my body would shorten and become tight leading to an anterior rotation of the shoulders, while the muscles on my back would lengthen, become stretched and weak (this is a classic computer posture by the way). You can see from this, that if I didn’t counteract this, I would end up with unbalanced forces subtly distorting the natural curve of my spine and leading to Kyphosis – a humped back, seen in so many of my computer-based clients. Male body builders are also very prone to this problem.
What I want to do here, is bring your awareness to what you do on a daily basis that could create muscle imbalances? There are so many more examples I could give you, but if you have back pain don’t mask it by taking painkillers. Be a detective and find out what has caused the problem in the first place. Pain is there for a reason…..to let you know that something is wrong. If you are a young mum, limit the amount of time you carry your child around on one hip, if still a baby use a carry pack of some sort, change hips regularly when carrying or if they are older (from 3 onwards) make sure they come to you by sitting down first, so they can then climb up onto you for a cuddle. If you are a male and carry a wallet, keys or mobile phone in your back pocket – move it. If you hold your phone between your ear and shoulder while you do something else – put the phone on speaker to reduce the tension in your muscles. By actively taking on some preventative care, your body will work far more efficiently with less likelihood of having any pain.
If you are stuck and no idea where the pain is, or how to allieviate it, then make an appointment for a Muscle Re-alignment and we will straighten you out gently, so that you can get back to life with a smile.