Are you heading down the path to injury?

You have muscle imbalances. Sorry I’m not sorry. Muscle imbalances require immediate attention and are quite common, so your in good company (I know it’s the wrong “you’re”, just wanted to make sure you’re paying attention).

So! You’re probably wondering what a muscle imbalance is at this point. I guess I’ll tell you. I got the time and why the hell not, right?

However, before getting into imbalances it is necessary to talk a wee bit about how muscles facilitate movement.

Why we don’t resemble pudding

Our bones don’t move on their own. Bones provide our bodies with structure, which is why we aren’t all flopping about like jellyfish, or the gelatinous boss from the god-forsaken Water Temple in Ocarina of Time.

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Muscles move the bone. Movement occurs when the length of a muscle changes. Think tug of war. The length of a muscle determines the amount of tension or pull on a joint. The shorter the muscle, the less slack, and the greater the pulling force or tension.

By definition, a flexed muscle is shortened and a stretched muscle is lengthened. When a muscle shortens, it pulls the bone, initiating movement, and the opposing lengthened muscle allows the movement to occur unhindered. Try flexing and extending your elbow and pay attention to what your biceps and triceps are doing throughout the movement. This relationship between the muscle and joint is aptly called the length-tension relationship.

The implications of this dynamic are paramount. The structure and shape of the skeleton at any given moment is determined by the lengths of muscles. Every joint has a certain length-tension relationship with the muscle that is conducive to optimal movement. A suboptimal, or altered length-tension relationship is what we like to call a muscle imbalance.

Two tickets to pain-adise (I know, it’s a stretch)

When you have a muscle imbalance, your muscles are pulling on your joints at an incorrect angle. This causes unnecessary stress to the joint, which can lead to injury. No bueno.

To reduce the risk of injury and maximize your workouts, muscle imbalances must be fixed. This is done by simply strengthening muscles that are too weak and stretching muscles that are too tight. Now get out there and find some balance!

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