Posts tagged muscle imbalance
Altered Muscle Recruitment in Patients with Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is a common musculoskeletal problem and one of the top reasons patients seek care from their primary care physician.   There are many sources of shoulder pain including impingement and rotator cuff tendonitis or tears, but they all have one impairment in common altered muscle recruitment.  When pain is introduced into the body the nervous system's ability to contract and coordinate the activity of the surrounding muscles is altered.  These changes lead to compensatory movements, more pain, and loss of function.   In addition to treating a patient's pain Physical Therapists utilize exercises to restore normal muscle function to the affected areas.

A recent article in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery compared the muscle activation levels between patients with impingement and their pain free peers (Michener et al. 2016).  All participants were asked to perform a weighted arm lifting task as the researchers collected muscle activation data.  The patients with impingement demonstrated an altered movement pattern while performing the task overworking their neck muscles in the process.  In comparison, the healthy controls were able to perform the task using the correct shoulder blade muscles without overcompensation from their necks.

This study highlights the importance of correcting these muscle imbalances and coordination deficits to reduce the risk of a patient's pain returning.  To learn more about how to reduce your pain and improve your shoulder function contact your local Physical Therapist.  

Kettle Bell Impact on Muscle Recruitment and Posterior Chain Function

The majority of people with lower quarter pain or symptoms will demonstrate altered coordination and communication between the nervous system and muscles.  This leads to altered movement patterns which may perpetuate symptoms and lead to more chronic pain and muscle imbalances.  Primary movers for our movement patterns (example: gluts) may be substituted for weaker, less tolerant muscle groups (lumbar extensors) leading to a greater loss of performance, strength, agility, coordination, and balance.  

boulder physical therapy posterior chain strengthening

One of the most common areas of coordination or strength impairments includes the muscles of the posterior chain shown above.  This chain of muscles involving the same side hamstring and glut works with the opposite side latissimus dorsi to produce athletic and functional movements each day.  Impairments within this chain of muscles, in particular weakness or inhibition of the gluteus maximus, leads to poor movement patterns, chronic symptoms, and loss of performance in tasks involving this chain.  Examples would include most throwing movements and your golf, baseball, or hockey swing.  Conversely, strengthening this chain of muscles leads to improvements in strength and performance.  

kettlebell swing strengthening louisville physical therapy

The kettle bell is an excellent piece of strength training equipment to develop coordination, power, and strength.  Two common swings with this piece of equipment include single and double hand swings.  This back to front movement is an excellent way to target the posterior chain and incorporate a movement patterns from your foot through your hand as you accelerate the weight.  Different phases of the swing, located below, incorporate different muscles at different degrees of recruitment.   

boulder physical therapy strengthening sports performance

A recent article by Van Gelder et al. examined the muscle activity of the hamstrings and gluts during the kettle bell swing in 23 healthy young adults (IJSPT. 2015). The authors noted significant recruitment of all muscles in the leg reaching a threshold of activity needed for strengthening.  Thus, the kettle bell swing is an excellent alternative to replace single muscle or joint strengthening exercises.  The authors also noted hip extension range of motion was associated with the ability of the participants to recruit the gluteal muscles.  Thus, athletes and clients utilizing kettle bell swings should ensure they have proper mobility in their hips before adding resistance in this movement pattern.  

To evaluate your movement patterns and learn how to improve your performance contact your local Physical Therapist.