Fundamentally we are made in two halves and inevitably have little differences from side to side that cause imbalance. These are our little structural eccentricities. And even if we don’t have these, we all have to use our bodies in unbalanced ways sometimes. Even something as simple as being right or left handed puts a lot of unbalanced stress on certain parts of the body. Luckily, most of the time our bodies cope well with these inevitable asymmetries and they do not develop into problems.
The body is very clever and will tend to adjust itself in order to cope. These are called adaptations. However, sometimes there is too much one-sided adaptation going on due to a more obvious leg length difference, for example, or a regular activity that requires repetitive one-sided movements.
Muscles tightening and loosening play a large part in these adaptations and it is important to ensure that short term adjustments are not going to lead to long term problems such as pelvic imbalance or upper-cross syndrome.
Symptoms of muscle imbalance:
- Persistent one-sided pain/stiffness: either side to side or front to back
- Tight chest and shoulder muscle with weak and aggravated upper back muscles
- One hip/shoulder higher than the other
- Excessive pointing outwards/ inwards of one foot more than the other
- Preference to lean on one hip/cross one leg over other/sit with legs up to one side
Muscle imbalance requires a careful and expert diagnosis by a trained professional. It is a very common presentation in clinic and where appropriate, receives careful and expert treatment. Firstly an assessment and analysis is performed to establish how serious the problem is and then, if appropriate, gentle treatment is performed to mobilize structures, balancing body mechanics, and freeing up the structures causing the symptoms. This reduces pain and increases balance and symmetry.
Ultimately the aim is not just to treat it but prevent the symptoms from reoccurring. This includes education on how to keep the area in question healthy in the future. Please call to talk to a trained professional if you want to know more.