Most of today’s aches and pains are caused by muscle imbalance. Unfortunately a lot of people assume the imbalance comes from their workout, and it may, but a majority of the muscle imbalance is a result of our everyday lifestyle.
Too many push ups and not enough pull ups contributes to muscle imbalance that leads to upper back pain (the shameless plug for the WorkHorse). However a lot of that upper back pain could be due to too much time hunched over a computer, ipad, desk, kitchen counter, patients…you name it.
Think about it, how do you spend the 23 hours of the day you aren’t working out? This is important because if one group of muscles are becoming shorter and tighter – the opposing muscles are becoming elongated and stretched. In other words, the muscles aren’t pulling equally from front to back, left to right, side to side, etc. That’s what contributes to aches and pains and leaves you susceptible to injury if not taken care of.
- Do you sit for a long periods of time? At a desk, car, plane or recliner? If so, you are shortening and tightening your hip flexors and hamstrings.
- Are your shoulders pulled forward as you work on your computer, at your desk, with your ipad, texting, etc? This shortens and tightens your pec muscles.
- Do you spend hours with your head looking down while looking at your computer, desk, ipad, television – this shortens your neck muscles and leads to neck pain or headaches?
- You don’t have to sit at a desk – are you a chef, pharmacist, dentist, massage therapist, etc…spending half the day with your shoulders pulled forward and head down?
- Are you in heels all day long shortening your calve muscles?
- Do you sleep on your side, in the fetal position, which mimics sitting at a desk for 7-8 hours while you sleep? Shoulders pulled forward, knees bent…hip flexors shortened as are hamstrings!
- Do you use a pillow that props your head forward too much as you sleep, mimicking looking down at a computer screen for 8 hours?
- Do you golf, play baseball, softball, tennis or any other one-sided sport? Do you rotate your body more forcefully to one-side of your body than the other?
- How about the guitar, piano, flute, etc? Those hours of practice could be holding certain muscles in shortened positions versus others?
I ask these questions to patients and clients to determine if their lifestyle is contributing to more of the problem than their workout. You may have to address both issues, but you have to know the cause – if you want to get them out of pain!
FYI…there are many times when the area of pain is not necessarily the cause of the pain. A lot of upper back pain is caused by tight chest muscles – you may want someone to stick their elbows in your upper back to break the spasm. But if you don’t re-adjust the tension on those pec muscles you may never truly get to the source of that upper back pain.
The same goes for low back pain – you may feel it on your back side, but those tight hip flexors that sit underneath your abdominals may need to be adjusted and worked on.
It’s the 80-20 Rule I talk about for health and fitness…that also applies to everyday aches and pains.
Neuro-muscular techniques such as; spindle cell release, golgi tendon and trigger point therapy, along with therapeutic exercises go a long way in restoring normal tone back into those tight muscles. Passive stretching isn’t always the answer. You also need to know what exercises are going to help and hurt you. I hope this helps you understand where your aches and pains are coming from…and hope your doctor, chiropractor, therapist or trainer hasn’t overlooked the obvious.
If they have, let us know if we can help you. I’ll be going more in-depth in the weeks to come with various articles and video’s...hope you stay tuned.