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The Asymmetry Myth by Adam Rose

Experiencing shoulder or back pain? You may have noticed that one leg is longer than the other or one shoulder is higher. You may not be experiencing pain. You may just feel tension in the neck, shoulder or hip. Or even more distally in the limbs. You may not have noticed any asymmetry, but you might feel during your squat or when you sit on to a chair that your bottom or weight is pushed to one side more than the other. You may be a desk based worker and feel you can’t turn your body as easily to one side to reach over your desk.

This is all very common, but just because it’s common, it doesn’t make it NORMAL.

Unless we’re in a lot of pain or restricted quite substantially in function then most people just “put up with it” and consider this as their quirk. Interestingly, this doesn’t have to be. Unless you have a congenital scoliosis or fused boney abnormalities then these “quirks” can be addressed making you more efficient functionally, reduce your pain and get rid of that horrible tension that makes you fidget and stretch. In turn, making you less frustrated, but a happy and healthy person in control of their body. And who doesn’t want that?

Asymmetry of postural structures can lead to chronic pain or pathologies such early onset osteoarthritis and prolapsed discs. If you’re doing intense exercise that involves impact like running or weights then you run the risk of increasing your chances of joint wear and tear and potential future joint replacement. This is due to abnormal loads through certain joints due to asymmetry and the asymmetry indicates that you’re weaker in certain muscle groups. The body is designed to move via a series of sequences caused by the initiation of certain muscle groups. If we’re weaker in a group of muscles, commonly caused by lifestyle habits, then the body begins to compensate functionally and our sequencing patterns begin to change. Albeit, not noticeable to ourselves, until we begin to experience pain as a result of this long term compensation.

Most people have some form of movement dysfunction or asymmetry and for some this may not cause them any discomfort in their current lifestyle. But this doesn’t mean it won’t rear its ugly head in the future due to years of compensatory movement or if you decide to change work or become more active.

As mentioned earlier, these problems can be addressed. Each case varies depending on the stage of the problem, age and pre-existing problems but by working through manual therapy in conjunction with tailored clinical pilates, regardless of your stage, benefits will be had.

I have an interest in correcting these problems and particularly focus my interest on spinal, hip and shoulder dysfunctions but I’m strongly of the opinion that not one part of the body moves without the others so always focus my attention to the whole body. Here at Premier Sports and Spinal Medicine we have the perfect set up to facilitate your care and treatment starting with 1:1 appointments with smooth transition into clinical pilates classes at the appropriate stage. We have an extensive team from the world of physiotherapy, osteopathy, myotherapy and exercise physiology that are well equipped to see you achieve your optimum function.

Case study: 15 year old boy

Presented with lower back pain on the right side. Started whilst running during a football match. He’s had previous lower back pain and his parents have noticed that his running gait becomes like a gallop when fatigued. They have also become aware of the fact he has 1 leg longer than the other. Previous physios have suggested a heel wedge in the shorter leg. But this has made no difference to his gait or leg length or lower back pain.

Objectively, this patient presented with a leg length difference of over 2-3cm’s, he had multiple rotations throughout the spinal joints along with a scoliosis. All spinal movements were limited and painful and he was unable to reach below his knees in standing. This was all due to the leg length and movement compensations.

With 1 treatment session, he could immediately touch his toes in standing, his legs were almost equal and his pain had reduced.

Over the last 5 weeks and 6 appointments we have achieved an equal leg length, a perfectly aligned spine with full movement and most importantly the patient is pain free. This client has been exceptionally committed to his exercises at home hence such fantastic results. We are now at the stage of filtering him into our classes so that he can continue to make further gains and stop his old way of moving creeping back in.

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