Have you ever had days where you just felt your balance was a bit off?  Maybe you were stumbling a bit, or felt like you couldn’t stand on one foot or were listing to one side.  Then, it probably went away, and you didn’t give it much more thought. 

Those days are symptomatic of muscular imbalance, being too tight on one side, with your muscles pulling you out of balance.

But did it really go away?  Or did your body just adjust?

The human body has more than 600 muscles; each of which has a unique origin and insertion, and a unique function; no two muscles do exactly the same thing.  Every muscle is connected to the skeletal system through tendons located at the end of the muscles.  The function of the muscular system is to generate force, via the neurological signals sent from the central nervous system, to move the bones – accomplishing motion.  All links in the chain must be sound in order for proper function.

The muscles can be divided by function into postural (tonic) and dynamic (phasic) muscles. Some of the muscles may have mixed properties; but can be classified by predominant tendencies. The postural muscles are designed to maintain their constant length despite the application of force. The dynamic muscles adjust to varying positions and tensions through a constant analysis of muscle length sensed by receptors within the muscle-tendon complex (muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs).

All of these actions occur in the presence of gravity. The importance of gravity and its relationship to muscular balance was studied in great detail at NASA.  The studies showed properly aligned humans use a consistent set of seven anti-gravity muscles to retain an erect posture in the presence of gravity. The hamstrings and abs are used in conjunction with the anti-gravity muscles to create a balanced pelvis and torso. This balanced system allows for minimal muscular tension and effort in the body. The force of gravity of a segmentally aligned system is applied through the eight load-bearing joints and the long bones of the body such that the gravitational force is applied as evenly throughout the body as possible.

However, any loss of equally distributed weight bearing removes the proper loading of the spine, long bones and joints, and the balanced pull of the muscles. Unequal load-bearing in the presence of gravity also removes proper proprioceptive signals from the periphery to the central nervous system.

Broken down into the simplest terms, what all this means is that:

  • Function follows form
    • When your muscles are balanced, your body functions optimally
  • Form follows function
    • If form is poor, function will be impaired
  • Out of balance = poor form = poor function 
  • Development of poor movement habits affects the nervous system which holds you in the unhealthy patterns of movement (muscle memory)

Massage helps you keep your muscles balanced and healthy.  Massage increases the circulation throughout the body, including the muscles, improving the health of your muscles, organs, and overall.  Massage keeps the nervous system operating optimally.  And, finally, if you’ve developed imbalance in your musculature, massage helps in the reeducating process to rebalance both the muscles and the nervous system to correct those poor movement patterns.

Yoga is beneficial to keep the muscles strong, yet flexible, increases circulation and improves the functioning of the nervous system.

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Copyright © Janet Lawlor, BCTMB