Do you run, throw, lift weights, or swim? Do you ever think about the way you move or do you just move ‘naturally’?
Movement Dysfunction is an exciting area of rehabilitation and sports performance that addresses how athletes move and whether they move correctly while performing a functional motion. Movement patterns are those that we initially acquire when we learn a new activity and are reinforced through repetition. Poor movement patterns often develop one of two ways: they are either initially learned incorrectly or develop following an injury.
Are you a runner or athlete who has ever run through an injury without seeking the care of a professional? You limp a little for a few days, you have decreased pain a few days later, eventually you can run with only a little tightness, and finally you run normally with occasional tightness during or when you finish… until you have another injury. The old injury may have healed and be pain-free, but now your body adapted and learned a new movement pattern to avoid the pain associated with your injury. This poor pattern is now the new way you run, even though you no longer have the original injury. It forces your body to stress tissues in ways they are not designed to be stressed and creates muscle imbalances throughout your body often far away from your original injury.
Muscle imbalance creates an asymmetrical pull on the body and contributes to injury. Treatment for movement dysfunction and muscle imbalance consists of evaluating the individual’s imbalance and correcting the dysfunction by stretching or deactivating tight muscles and strengthening or activating weak muscles.
Dr. Vladimir Janda, a Czech Neurologist and the forefather of muscle imbalances, noticed muscle imbalances in ‘healthy’ individuals followed similar patterns to people with certain neurological disease, albeit much more minor. He found that these patterns were neurologically based (deep in the brain) and required correct repetition to fix the neurological pathway ultimately correcting the poor movement.
Many people also spend considerable time lifting at the gym, in fitness classes, or with home videos (P90X, insanity, etc.) with good intentions of becoming stronger, faster or more athletic. Although these programs often increase cardiovascular and muscular fitness, they can also lead to injuries if not performed correctly. If you move poorly prior to training or after you fatigue, the training will increase your dysfunction, forcing you to develop new movement patterns that will greatly increase your chance of injury.
It is essential that you move correctly prior to training! Practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. If you are an athlete and work out regularly or if you notice that you move poorly and/or are regularly sore in the same spot, have your movement evaluated by a professional trained in movement dysfunction. You may just need a few corrections to move correctly, improve performance, and stay healthy.
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