Exercise Is More Than Strong Muscles

Exercise is About More Than Strong Muscles; It’s About Balanced MovementBalanced exercise is important

By Dr. Cynthia Horner

Misunderstood Joint and Muscle Problems

Recently a patient came to my office with shoulder pain afte  she began an exercise program. She said, “Well doc I guess it’s just old age.” I asked “How old is that shoulder?” She laughed and said “forty-eight”. My reply was, “Your other shoulder is also forty-eight years old and it is working just fine so we know it’s not old age causing your problem”.  What is often the problem in muscle and joint pain syndromes is asymmetry, one side of the body is out of balance as compared to the other side. Fitness is more than strong muscles; it’s about balanced muscle movement.

Life Creates Imbalances from Left to Right

Daily activities are seldom symmetrical. We seldom use our side right equally or similarly to our left. If you are right-handed you use your right arm and hand 75% more than your left. Automobiles are designed so that your right leg moves from gas to brake using your right hip flexors (located at your front pockets) to slightly lift your thigh. Sports naturally create muscle imbalances as most skills such as a golf swing or a batter’s swing is perfected only on one side.

Imbalances Are Also Experienced From Front to Back

Imbalances in the body from asymmetry are not only experienced from right to left but also from front to back. Most of the activities we do with our arms are in front of our bodies, creating short tight muscles in our chest as compared to our upper back. Many people who seek my help as a chiropractor are suffering from complications due to short tight chest muscles and weak overstretched muscles between their shoulder blades. Pain in the neck and or upper back and shoulders often accompanies short tight chest muscles with weak overstretched upper back muscles. Because we sit much of our day, hip flexor muscles become short and tight pulling the spine into a slumping posture. The low back becomes imbalanced trying to compensate for the unnatural forward pull.

Many things we do throughout the day create imbalances such as:

  • A golf swing
  • Crossing your legs while sitting
  • Holding a baby
  • Driving
  • Writing
  • Getting in and out of a car
  • Playing tennis
  • Working on a computer

One Side of the Body Works While the Other Side Anchors

In doing most daily activities the muscles and joints on one side of the body are used more and in different motions than the muscles and joints on the other side of the body. But the other side is working also, to anchor or create a counterbalance to complete the task. Years of this ‘one sided use’, ‘one sided anchor’ creates imbalances that may end up feeling painful and restricting movement. The constant pull of short tight muscles creates inflammation in joints and damage to joint cartilage.  If left untreated it is possible to damage a joint requiring surgery to patch it up or replace it. Chiropractic is all about finding and fixing problems in the body before permanent damage is done.

Exercise Always Makes Muscle Imbalances Worse

Exercise and physical workouts tend to be symmetrical with an asymmetrical body. The overworked, tight muscles and inflamed joints are subjected to the same exercise as the weak muscles and underused joints. When my exam reveals a condition caused by imbalanced motion I recommend a Function Muscle Assessment Screening. The best person I know in Greenville SC to perform this assessment test is Jamie Blair  a personal trainer at Premier Fitness with locations on Garlington Road and in the Suntrust building downtown Greenville SC . He will not only uncover structural imbalances he will also give you a plan to fix them. The test takes about one hour to complete  and cost $150.00.  If you think an imbalance in muscles or joints is causing you pain or limiting your range of motion, contact to me or Jamie Blair about a Functional Muscle Assessment Screening.

What my patients have taught me: “Exercise works best when it is seen as a freedom not as an obligation”


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