Being a Personal Fitness Professional, I hear from many people who are suffering from various aches and pains, and unfortunately are misinformed. One thing I am constantly hearing from people is “I’ve got a bad back,” or “just my old tennis elbow acting up”. This frustrates me because these people are misled and are often suffering unnecessarily.
My frustration is not with the person experiencing the problem, but with the Health and Medical Industry as a whole! Frequently, these people are diagnosed with conditions they don’t have such as Arthritis, Osteoporosis, and many others. Nearly all of the aches, pains, and Injuries people experience are caused by muscle imbalances!
The human body functions as a whole. The main reason people experience these problems are because certain muscles are pulling their body out of proper alignment. First, you must understand some basic human anatomy. Most importantly, how does a muscle function? Muscles are connected to bones in two places, the insertion and the origin. In order for movement to occur the muscles must contract or shorten, which pulls on one end or attachment.
Two things can cause a muscle to pull too much when it is not being asked to contract. The most common cause is poor posture or positioning. An example of this would be how the hip flexor muscles (the muscles in the top front of your thigh that bring your leg forward) shorten while sitting.
The more time you spend sitting the more the hip flexor muscles will tighten due to poor positioning. What’s worse is most of us spend a lot of time sitting! Whether it’s while driving, while at work, at home watching television, or at home on the computer! This sets you up for a big problem!
The other cause is a corresponding weakness, or lack of use in the opposing muscle groups. For example, the hamstring and gluteus muscles don’t get worked nearly as often as the hip flexors and quadriceps, unless of course one walked backwards. The pull of these muscles directly affects the positioning of the pelvis.
Think of a muscle imbalance as a tug of war. If one side is stronger it will over power the other muscle group. The tightening of the hip flexors pulls the front of the pelvis downward causing the lower back to arch excessively. Serious problem I This puts unnecessary pressure on the discs and also the muscles of the lower back! This is the number one cause of low back pain and injury!
Not only do muscle imbalances affect every joint of your body; they also affect your internal organs! For example, what do you think happens to the space between your internal organs when your low back muscles are pulling you to right? Your overall health is affected by muscle imbalances!
I’ve worked with hundreds of people who have been diagnosed with so called conditions and are pain free with in just a few weeks! In most cases, all I had them do was stretch the muscles that were pulling too much and strengthen the ones that weren’t pulling enough!
Have you ever been to a Chiropractor, Physical Therapist, or Orthopedic Surgeon? Did they explain what the cause of the problem was? Did they explain to you, which muscles were pulling too much? Did their treatment plan correct your condition, or did they just treat the symptom? The major problem is that most medical professionals don’t look at the body as a whole. They zoom in on your problem area (symptom), in our example the low back. Well, the cause of the problem is almost always the tightness of the hip flexors and quadriceps muscles, which are in the front of your body! Before you accept any diagnosis be sure that you have looked at all the possibilities.
Figuring out what is causing the problem (or will cause one in the future) is relatively easy. An extensive physical evaluation can be performed, which includes testing of muscular strength, flexibility, and function. Gait (walking) and biomechanics should also be assessed to note any deviations that are the result of current muscle imbalances and ones that may cause future problems. Once you know which muscles are too tight and which are too weak you can then begin correcting those Imbalances. All it takes is some stretching and strengthening in the right places, which can take just a few minutes a day!