Muscle imbalance is a phenomenon that we see frequently in the clinic which can result in injury and pain. Simply put, each joint in our body is moved via muscles that cross that joint, and every muscle has an opposing muscle that moves the joint in the opposite direction. There is a sort of ‘tug of war’ which occurs, where if one muscle contracts and shortens, the opposing muscle relaxes and lengthens. If we get permanent shortening of a muscle from overuse, its opposing muscle because permanently lengthened and weaker.
This process then creates a domino type effect which causes other muscles in the affected region to compensate for the weaker muscles, resulting in overuse and shortening of that muscle and lengthening and weakness of its opposing muscle. This vicious cycle will continue to perpetuate itself until it is corrected.
Postural dysfunction is closely linked with the above process in which permanent changes occur to the muscles in our body due to overuse or prolonged periods in certain postures. Commonly seen with office workers, postural changes occur over a long period of time and take time to reverse.
The effect of poor posture and the associate muscle imbalances are pain, discomfort, and an increased risk of injury. A large part of the management of these conditions involves education, and explaining that the solution is largely exercise based and will take an extended period of time. Your physiotherapist will complete a postural examination and muscle balance assessment to identify the target areas the prescribe a very specific and tailored exercise program to address these issues.