Stability in the right direction
How many steps do you take a day? 10,000? 3895? 500? Or are you not that sad and don’t keep count? Maybe you guys have a fitbit or a pedometer which keeps count for you to see how many miles you have done. Either way, if each one of us counts the amount we use our legs in a day to create functional movements, together we would rack up billions of steps! Now why am I going on and on about walking and moving in general? Let’s look at this question in another way….
How many of us carry out functional movements but in a correct manner or technique? Does that question puzzle you guys a bit now? You must think what is this guy talking about, he’s lost the plot! But this is a serious question, how many of you can carry out simple movements such as walking but with the correct technique? This is what we will be jibba jabbing about today!
If you didn’t already know, in its simplest terms, your muscles can be divided in to 2 different groups; 1 group are the local or deep muscles which are stabilisers and the other group are global or superficial muscles which are responsible for carrying out movement patterns. Obviously it’s a bit more complicated than this, but for the purpose of not boring you guys, just think that there are only 2 distinct groups of muscles. We will focus on the superficial muscles as they are the ones which carry out movement patterns.
The global muscles attach from the pelvis and the rib cage to the upper and lower extremities (your upper and lower limbs). They are responsible for the transfer of force from the core to the extremities and also responsible for equalising the external loads placed on the body. In simple terms this just means that if a weight was thrown at you, you will have sufficient energy to efficiently control the weight and not let it injure you! So knowing this, these muscles can further be divided in to sub groups – These are called sub systems. At present, we have segregated certain muscle groups in to 4 sub systems; The deep longitudinal subsystem, Posterior oblique subsystem, Anterior oblique subsystem and the lateral subsystem. I am not going to explain the role of each of these subsystems as it will take too long so if you boffins are interested then ‘google’ is the magic word! Look it up 😀
But basically these subsystems work in order to keep our body in check and to produce optimum movement patterns without any issues. There are a number of muscles which work in synergy (together) within these systems to provide pelvic stability and efficient movement. Now if any of these systems are on strike then you will suffer the consequences, one of which is instability in the hips, back, shoulders, and lower extremities. Muscles such as the gluteus medius/maximus, adductors, lats, quadratus lumborum and the obliques are some of the muscles involved in pelvic and sacroiliac joint stability. Hope I just sounded clever naming muscles 😀
Now on an everyday bases you will not notice changes or instability in your back and hips because you are used to that way of movement. Just because you are used to it, does not mean it is the right technique. When you break down tissue, it grows back along the lines of stress that you subjected it to the previous time. Eg: If you did BB squats with excessive forward lean for months and years then overtime that will be your ‘normal’ technique and without you realising you will develop tightness in the calves, hip flexors, erector spinae muscles and some of the abdominal muscles and weaknesses in the glutes, hamstrings and core stabilisers. But you will not realise that this has happened because you have been carrying that technique out for a long time…unless somebody actually corrects your form. When that actually happens then you will find it extremely difficult to perform the correct form of a squat. Due to weaknesses in certain muscle groups, you will find it very challenging to perform the right technique even without any external weight! I can use the same principle when I talk about everyday movements such as walking. Another quick test – Have a good look in the mirror (not your face!) but look at your knees and ankles. Have a look at which way the knees face, are the facing directly forward and in line with your 2nd and 3rd toe or do they cave in or move out? Also look at your ankles – Do they flatten or have they got an extremely high arch? If you do suffer from those 2 dysfunctions then this will cause an extreme amount of stress in everyday activities such as walking. Knees caving in or feet flattening could suggest that your glutes, certain hamstrings, your quadriceps stabilisers, stabilisers on the front of the lower leg and certain muscles in the calves are under performing! When we walk we can put 2 – 4 times our bodyweight through our limbs, now that is a hell of a lot of weight! Imagine all that force radiating through our knees when they are at a mechanical disadvantage, It’s like forcing a normal person to fight Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan together! Yeah not a good sight eh!
Every day, every week, every month and every year you are moving and creating potential injuries through your joints if you have incorrect movement patterns. But this is reversible! Finally some joy out of all this! Firstly, you need to address the issues and find out which muscles are overactive and which are underactive and weak. Secondly, you definitely need to stretch out the overactive muscles by using foam rollers, deep tissue masseuses, static stretches, golf balls or even rolling pins. These strategies will reduce the over activity of these muscles. Thirdly, you need to strengthen the underactive muscles and fourthly you need to integrate multiple muscle groups in full body movements. Once all of these steps are carried out and the equilibrium between muscles groups are back to normal then you will find that simple movements such as walking will become pain free and a lot more efficient. But you need to give this time and practise these steps everyday!
If you need further assistance, then speak to a qualified practitioner who deals with this and they will help you out. Rectifying muscle imbalances is a vital aspect of not just gym goers but for every single person out there as we all fall in to bad habits. For optimum movement and stability in our joints, we must take this matter head on and do something sooner than later. There are too many people out there suffering from injuries which originate from improper movement patterns – This in turn leads to people missing work days, lacking performance in their sport or the gym and even pain on an everyday bases.
So if you want to see that perfect lunge, or the correct way of walking, dancing and face planting then you need to interrogate each subsystem and rectify the problem! So get going and improve everyday stability!