Injured? Look at Your Musculoskeletal Balance
Posted 2/17/2016 by UHBlog
If you’re a runner, dancer, musician, crossfitter, cyclist or an everyday athlete, chances are you’re no stranger to aching, sore muscles.
Some of that muscle soreness may just be a normal part of your healthy exercise or workout routine, but nagging, persistent soreness can also be a red flag for musculoskeletal imbalance.
“When the musculoskeletal system is not in balance, injuries and soreness are likely to occur,” says family medicine specialist Robert Truax, DO. “A musculoskeletal imbalance puts people in a state of ‘dis-ease’ – lack of ease – which can lead to injuries, such as a rotator cuff injury, herniated disc, patella tendinitis or bursitis. These can be caused by or lead to muscle compensations elsewhere in the body, delaying healing.”
Musculoskeletal imbalances can occur for many reasons, including:
- Poor posture
- Emotional stress
- Inadequate training technique
- Lack of core strength
- Lack of neuromuscular control
- Overcompensation from an injury
“Just as the wheels and tires on a car must be aligned so the vehicle can run smoothly and most efficiently, your muscles and joints must be aligned, stable and balanced so your body will be able to perform at maximum efficiency,” Dr. Truax says.
Daily activities such as sitting at a desk, holding a child and carrying luggage can cause temporary muscle imbalances, although your body can self-correct. Also, regular exercise can help keep muscles balanced. However, sometimes your own self-correction is not enough, and the imbalance persists.
According to Dr. Truax, athletic activities – though healthy for overall fitness – can exacerbate these imbalances. In some cases, exercising might cause imbalance, but more often, they reveal the imbalance through decreased performance, loss of flexibility and aches and pains.
During his hands-on evaluation and diagnostic examination, Dr. Truax looks for asymmetries, tension, stiffness, weakness, spasm, swelling, tenderness, and restriction of motion of the body’s bones and muscles.
Once he determines a patient’s problem is due to musculoskeletal imbalance, Dr. Truax performs osteopathic manipulation of the patient’s soft tissues, muscles and joints using techniques such as stretching, gentle pressure and resistance.
“My goal is to find the root cause of a muscle imbalance, and to work to correct that imbalance to reduce muscle strain and the risk of further muscle soreness or injury,” he says. “By improving a joint’s range of motion and balancing tissue and muscle, I can encourage the body’s natural tendency to heal itself.”
The number of visits needed to correct musculoskeletal imbalances varies based on your health and activity level.
“I typically see a patient for two to three visits over a three- to five-week period,” he says. “Once I see how a patient is healing, I may then refer them to a professional at UH Connor Integrative Health Network to have acupuncture or massage therapy as part of their ongoing rehabilitation.”
Robert Truax, DO is a sports medicine physician who specializes in musculoskeletal balance. You can request an appointment with Dr. Truax or any other University Hospitals doctor online.