In my previous blog, I outlined how to acheive perfect posture. If you did the posture checkup assessment you might have notice how odd it feels just to stand with perfect posture. Try doing every repetition of every exercise with perfect posture. Then you’ll notice how imbalanced your body is and how much more difficult each exercise is by using perfect form.
When working with new clients I always start them in the Stabilization Endurance phase to correct their musculoskeletal imbalances. In my line of work, these imbalances are known as Kinetic Chain Dysfunction.
But, what exactly is the Kinetic Chain?
The Kinetic Chain
The Kinetic Chain consists of the muscular system, the nervous system, and the articular system. The kenetic chain is essentially your entire body.
The muscular system consists of the more than 600 muscles of the body and their associated fascia, tendons, tendon sheaths, and bursae. The fascia interpenetrates and surrounds muscles, bones, organs, nerves, blood vessels and other structures, but mostly I am referring to the fascia surrounding the muscles.
The nervous system is the system of cells, tissues, and organs that regulates the body’s responses to internal and external stimuli. It consists of the central and peripheral nervous systems. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system nerves, which carry impulses to and from the central nervous system.
The articular system consists of all the joints in body. We most often think of hips, shoulders, knees and elbows when talking about joints but joints also occur between bones and cartilages, between cartilages, and between bones and teeth. But I’ll just stick to the major joints of the body when referring to the articular system.
“Kinetic” denotes the force transference from the nervous system to the muscular and articular systems as well as from joint to joint, while “chain” refers to the interconnected linkage of all joints in the body.
In a body without Kinetic Chain Dysfunction there would be optimal muscle balance and strength, optimum recruitment of muscles, and optimal joint range of motion. If those three things are in a perfect state then any time your body moves you would have optimum structural alignment, neuromuscular control and, thus, optimum movement.
However, for reasons such as repetitive stress, impact trauma, disease and sedentary lifestyle, dysfunction can occur in one or more of these systems. When this happens muscle balance, muscle recruitment, and joint motion are altered leading to changes in your body’s structural alignment, neuromuscular control (or coordination), and movement patterns. The result is kinetic chain impairment and ultimately injury.
So, before you read any further, stop slouching over your computer. Sit up straight, lift the chest and roll your shoulders back and down and lift the chin up. Try holding that position until you’re done reading this post. You might need to adjust your screen to a height where you don’t need to drop the chin in order to read comfortably.
Kinetic Chain Dysfunction
But what about a body exhibiting Kinetic Chain Dysfunction? Impaiment is an alteration in the muscular, nervous and articular (joint) systems to function interdependently and effectively to perform their functional tasks.
When the muscular system is impaired, you have muscle imbalances and strength deficits. If the nervous system is impaired, you have an altered recruitment of muscles. An altered articular system results in dysfunctional joint motion. This means altered structural alignment, neuromuscular control and altered movement.
What does this mean in normal, everyday terms?
When an impairment exists there are muscles that are overactive muscles and muscles that are underactive around a joint. Muscles that are overactive are tight and strong while underactive muscles are overly lengthened and weak. These muscles are typically opposite each other on the body, i.e.: chest/back and quadriceps/hamstrings.
Alterations in muscle activity results in a change of the biomechanical motion of the joint, leading to increased stress on the tissues of the joint, and eventually injury. Or, you could tear or strain muscle tissue if muscles are overly tight.
Some typical examples of kinetic chain dysfunction are rounded shoulders and forward head posture. How many of you work at a desk and use a computer or spend hours on the computer on a daily basis?
If you sit a lot during your day, either at a desk or driving long hours you will typically have tight hip flexors and and arched lower back. Men, stand up and take note of the position of your belt (or button on your pants). Is the front of your belt or pants several inches lower in the front than the back? For both women and men who exhibit these muscle imbalances you will most likely have rounded or protruding abdominal muscles.
Also, do you tend to have lower back pain? Well, there you have it, I guarantee your hip flexors and hamstrings need to be stretched.
Have you ever noticed that you wear down the heels of your shoes on either the outside or inside? Then the muscles in your calves are either underactive on the inside of the leg and overactive on the outside or vice versa.
If you have one of these dysfunctions or impairments you will almost always have two or three impairments in different areas of the body. This happens through repetitive movments (which I guarantee you are doing unconsciously) that train the muscles to hold an impaired posture, but also due to injuries both minor or major, and/or a sedentary lifestyle. Even the smallest injury can cause big compensations over time.
All of these impairments can be corrected with the right combination of flexibility and strenth exercises depending on the findings of a movement assessment.
In my next blog, I’ll teach you some exercises that will help improve your posture.