Muscle imbalance refers to two groups of muscles in which one group is stronger or weaker than the other. This is analogous to having a better balance when riding a bicycle with one hand on each side of the handlebar than with one hand. Corrective exercises can help you restore balance between the two muscle groups and adjacent muscle groups that can affect muscle imbalance.
Types of muscle imbalance
The professional in physical condition Anthony Carey identifies several types of postural imbalances that may increase the risk of pain, they include the anterior inclination of the pelvis, posterior tilt of the pelvis and kyphosis with head forward. (Ref. 1) The anterior inclination of the pelvis can be caused by tension in the hip flexors and in the rectus femoris of the thigh, causing the pelvis to tilt forward, increasing the extension in the lower back and lifting the buttocks. The posterior inclination is the backward tilt of the pelvis, reducing the extension of the lower back and the curvature of the buttocks. Kyphosis is the excessive flexion of the upper spine, which is usually accompanied by protrusion of the head and protraction of the shoulder.
Role of corrective exercise
Corrective exercise is often used by physiotherapists and exercise professionals to restore function and balance of muscle groups. For example, stretching the chest and abdominal muscles and strengthening the muscles of the back and posteriors is generally recommended to people with kyphosis. Each postural and muscular imbalance requires different sets of corrective exercises to reduce the severity of the condition. Therefore, there is no single approach to address all muscle imbalances.
Efficacy of corrective exercise
The method of corrective exercise can help improve muscle imbalances and posture. In a study conducted at the University of Tehran in Iran, participants in a program of comprehensive corrective exercises that addressed the entire body for 12 weeks had a significant improvement in their kyphotic posture than those who performed local corrective exercises that dealt only with the Upper part of the body. In another study published in "Clinical Rehabilitation," researchers at the University of Cairo in Egypt found that a combination of corrective exercises and traditional methods of rehabilitation can help adolescents suffering from scoliosis to improve their posture and function.
Correlation does not imply causality
As with any medical method or exercise, the corrective exercise may not work for everyone.Physiotherapist Mike Reinhold says that some people may have muscle imbalances that are caused by diseases, pain, structural alterations and neurological problems. Therefore, no amount of corrective exercise can address muscle imbalance. Some research shows that there is little correlation between muscle imbalances and poor posture with pain. A study published in the September 2002 issue of "The Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy" showed that weakness of the abdominal muscles, pelvic tilt, dysmetria, and the extent of lordosis of the lumbar spine was not associated with the low back pain among the 600 study participants.