"I just got a dog thinking that I would have the best exercise buddy ever. Turns out she's a bit lazy. She might actually be the laziest dog ever. I guess it's time to go to plan "B". This is as much thought as I usually give to beginning an exercise program. After all, they say starting is the hardest part, and if I have someone to run around with, maybe I'll stick to it a little longer. My latest attempt at staying fit was to pick up running. After day two, with no dog to run with me, my knee started bugging me...looks like I'll take a break and try again in a few days after my knee feels better. Then again, maybe the dog knows something I don't..."
Imbalances cause many different symptoms. If you have ever had a wear and tear problem like tendonitis, or with a joint, like cartilage degenerating and carpal tunnel syndrome…etc, then you are familiar with what happens when a body part is not in balance. The body’s design is amazing, and it’s built with a balanced starting point. That starting point is sometimes referred to as “correct posture” or the anatomical position. And mechanically, aka "the way we move", is based on that balanced position. The Ouch! program uses simple assessments to determine where you are out of balance, and then recommends corrective exercises to correct any imbalances that are found. Sounds simple.
If you’d like to try and find your own imbalances in both movement and position, here are few tests or discoveries, you can use to realize those imbalances. We’ll separate them by body area to make it easy to follow. There are additional positions that each area can have, but the ones laid out here are probably the most common. One thing to remember…If a body part is out of its designed position, or is not moving correctly, the rest of the body compensates for that issue by moving a little differently than it’s supposed to by creating a helping movement or compensation. That’s how “wear and tear” pains begin. Body parts start moving differently, unevenly, and you feel pain in one side or the other because it’s being overworked, overstressed…etc.
Starting from the head and moving down the body…Here are some simple imbalances that are easy to see.
1. Head Position - The head position is supposed to be level with your eyes looking forward or straight ahead with no tilt from side to side. If you are standing at a wall with the heels of your feet against the wall, you’ll notice your back of your head should be touching the wall on its own (without you moving it there). Excessive rounding at the upper back is also very common with a forward head position.
Common Positional Problem - Forward Head Position
When the head is sitting forward of its designed place, the cervical spine loses its normal curve, impinges on nerves of the neck, and causes an increase in stress on the muscles of the neck and spine.
Common pains and symptoms : Migraine Headaches, nerve impingement in neck and shoulder, TMJ, snoring, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), pain behind the eyes, decreased diaphragmatic breathing causing long periods of "holding your breath", and you start to look like a turtle.
Even prolonged sitting with a forward head position can give you symptoms and stress the neck and upper back
2. Shoulder Position - In correct posture, your shoulders should be sitting level to each other and, from the side view, be directly above your hip joints and directly below your ear. If you are standing against a wall with your head and heels touching the wall, your shoulder blades should feel flat and even against the wall and your hands will hang at your sides. When they are sitting in a rounded position and are viewed from the front (like looking into a mirror), they will hang in front of the body with the backs of the hands in full view. Many people with rounded shoulders find it uncomfortable to stand with their arms hanging relaxed. They feel the need to support the arms by putting the hands on their hips or crossing the arms at the chest.
Common Positional Problem - Forward Rounding of Shoulder
When one or both shoulders are rounded forward, the range of motion at the shoulder joint is diminished significantly. The shoulder is also in a weekend position for doing basic lifting motions, and more susceptible to injuries, nerve impingements from nerves running from the neck down the arm, and other pains associated with the forearm and hands..
Common pains and symptoms : Rotator cuff tears, labrum injuries, hand weakness or numbness, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, tendonitis
Rounded shoulders above are shown from different views. From the front view, rounding causes the back of the hand to be visible in front of the waist. On the back view, rounding causes the hands to disappear from view completely around the front of the body.
3. Hip or Pelvic position - Your pelvis is a large bone that crosses the body and acts a base of support for the upper body, and is the central structure for the entire body. Each side of the pelvis has a big hip joint that connects a leg. If the hips or pelvis are experiencing an imbalance, a difference is easy to see by looking at one or both of the legs. The legs should be directly below the hips, with the knees no closer to each other than the hips or feet. And the knees and feet should be pointed straight ahead.
Common postural problem - Hip Disparity or Pelvic Flexion
A hip disparity can be easily seen by a single foot pointing one way while the other foot is pointing another. You can also see a hip disparity in the wear and tear on your shoes. Usually one shoe is worn more heavily on the heal or on outside of the shoe. If you have ever worn a pair of shoe inserts, you’ll also understand why you needed to get bigger inserts over time (because the problem isn’t your feet, and inserts aren’t correcting the problem). The difference in movements between the two sides is also the major contributing factor to why the pain shows up in one side and not the other. When a person has a hip disparity, it's only comfortable to stand on one leg at a time. We stand with all of our weight on one leg, then we get tired and shift our weight back to the other side. The movement is subtle and constantly shifting back and forth. In general, the position is often described as "looking casual".
For a client with pelvic flexion, the pelvis is tucked under, flattening the lumbar spine and making the client feel as though they have a flat butt (or no butt).
Common pains and symptoms : Nerve pain , burning, or tingling down the leg. Back pain, hip pain, knee pain, ankle pain, shin splints, achilles tendonitis, arch pain in the foot, bunions, lumbar stenosis, and lumbar disc degeneration
Standing comfortably becomes an exercise in shifting your weight back and forth when you have a structural imbalances like a hip disparity. Looking comfortable becomes the exercise of choice.
Many common symptoms are related, first and foremost, to the imbalances the body’s position. Others are related to how that body moves when it is out of balance. In either case, restoring the balance is critical to stopping the symptom and the associated uneven wear and tear.
Here's the thing...Structural imbalances happen slowly, over time. They happen upon us when we aren't aware of the changes. We become "out of shape" or "de-conditioned", thinking a little cardio or weight training will return us to normal. But what really happens is our bodies also become imbalanced. And when we start exercising again, we start hurting or become injured from movements we've done a million times before due to our new, incorrect movement patterns. And rather than blame our age or genetics, all we have to do is find that place where we move symmetrically again.
Since the body uses muscles to move the bones, we use corrective exercises to move the bones correctly and restore them to their proper place. Once in there proper place, we teach our bodies to move normally…balance restored. Now you can find a new workout partner while your dog takes another nap. And the best part is how quick and easy it can be to live without pain.