Pain & Exercise: Rehabilitating Muscular Imbalances

Do not make the mistake of over-emphasizing the diagnosis and correction of minute muscular imbalances (MMI) for lifting efficiency or pain. Minute muscular imbalances and asymmetries are common and are a normal occurrence in the  pediatric and adult population. There will always be a difference in force production when you assess the strength of a muscle contraction in isolation. Eg. Quadriceps contraction of one leg can be marginally stronger than the opposite leg. Drastic difference in muscular strength between the legs will be present only in case of disuse of one leg over the other, such as a leg in a cast or due to a congenital abnormality.

Our body moves as a result of simultaneous contractions of many muscles, and not due to a  single muscle contraction in isolation.

There are many reasons for pain in a joint; MMI is rarely the cause. Think about it, if joint pain was due to a MMI wouldn’t you experience pain in that joint from the time you were born or at least most years of your life?

And if there is indeed a muscular imbalance, can it accurately be fixed to achieve a symmetrical force production in the right and the left side of the body? And if symmetrical force production has indeed been achieved via isolation rehabilitation exercises, can it be maintained for the rest of your life?

Most people will fall prey to the gimmicks of “rehabilitation professionals”. There are only a few who are truly making a difference in treating their clients/patients with evidence-based-practice and imparting education. The rest are out there contributing to the world of gimmick rehabilitation.

So, If you’ve been told that your pain or inefficiency in lifting weights is due to MMI, I’d like to advise you to train your body in its entirety to achieve optimum strength, rather than wasting your time on isolation exercises trying to fix something that is normal. Intelligently designed strength training program using barbell lifts will do the job optimally.

Stay Strong, Stay Healthy!
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