Importance of Regularly Checking and Correcting Kinetic Chain Imbalances

Yesterday I went to see my physical therapist. The week before, I had somehow pulled and/or spasmed my left back, ranging from the top trapezoids/neck down the middle back and into the lat area. It was during weight lifting that this happened and it was very annoying and painful for a long while.
The result of this was to then cause a kinetic chain domino effect. Those muscles are linked from the left side down into my right glutes, and down my right hamstring and so on. In the short few days that my left back was affected, it also caused my right lower back and glutes to tighten up, as well as down into tightening up my hamstring. This all manifested itself as a shorter right leg.
When I got to my physical therapist, he checked my leg length and all this tightening was enough to pull my right leg up by almost 1/4″ shorter than my left!
In the old days, physical therapists might prescribe an orthotic with a small lift in the heel to take up the room left by the shortening of my leg. However, I now perceive this as a crutch and not a permanent solution. In fact, I have a propensity for a shorter right leg, as its muscles tighten up and pull it up. But I have also found that through physical therapies, corrective exercise, and proper technique will actually remove the issue. Thus, having an artificial lift in my right leg, which was to correct for a condition, was now annoying a now normal condition of two corrected even legs! Needless to say, I scraped off the wedge and now have two relatively even legs….except when special conditions occur like my spasming left back.
Now I know that I have to keep special watch on muscle tightening of any sort, and also be wary of its effect on the kinetic chain of muscles in which it lies. It’s why I go to physical therapy every week to have ART and Graston specialists work over my tight spots and make sure that my body is balanced and even, and that nothing is pulling too much. Otherwise, leaving a condition like that untreated would result in further injuries further up and down this kinetic chain.
After experiencing this, I am now a firm believer that this is a major cause of injury in many runners, where muscles start getting tight and they are not given time to loosen up, and the kinetic chain starts tightening which eventually leads to injury. It’s too bad that more people do not have the time or resources, or even the desire to go more to a good physical therapist; I think it’s one of the reasons why I can keep running and racing faster and for longer distances without getting injured.
For way too detailed information about kinetic chains, check out Anatomy Trains.

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