We all know that muscles play an integral part in the body’s ability to move. Tendons attach muscles to bone and when the muscle contracts, it causes a joint to move and motion to occurs. But there is a delicate balance that these muscles must maintain in order for proper motion to be achieved and to prevent injuries from occurring.
If a muscle isn’t in tune with the rest of the body, if it contracts to forcefully or is experiencing a form of weakness, unnatural stresses are placed on the joint that the muscle moves. These stresses show themselves in the form of arthritis, cartilage tearing, degeneration and even disc herniations.
When we are born, the brain has already developed programs for certain movements. Muscles must fire in a certain order at the right strength to achieve a correct motion. The problem begins when these firing patterns are changed, which is a common occurrence in today’s world.
Improper posture, injury to muscles and faulty movement patterns i.e. bending with your back, are all reasons muscles misfire. When you have these issues, the connective tissue which allows for smooth motion to occur when a muscle contracts starts to stick together and become adhered. We call these “adhesions”. When this occurs, a muscle will no longer fire as it is originally programmed to. If a muscle is misfiring, it will no longer be able to stabilize your joints and injury will occur.
Perfect example, you aren’t paying attention and you step off a sidewalk unexpectedly, your brain is programmed to tell your muscles to contract immediately to protect your spine and stop your fall. The small muscles around your spine (local stabilizers) need to contract first and put your joints in a stable position. The second groups of muscle that contract are the large muscles (global stabilizers) that keep you from falling. If your small muscles aren’t firing first, your joints won’t be in a stable position when the large muscles fire, which will set up your joints for injury. Over time, this repetitive faulty muscle firing pattern can lead to problems such as degeneration, disc herniations, soft tissue damage and arthritis.
Even though these muscle firing patterns have changed, the brain remembers what the normal patterns are and can be retrained. There are many stability exercises available to help correct faulty muscle firing. From core training to stabilizing ankle sprains, it is important to have correct muscle firing and stability to prevent injuries from occurring or becoming chronic.