Corrective Exercise

Elderly Woman Pilates WorkA variety of different factors can lead to muscular imbalances, weaknesses, and improper functions. These issues lead to poor posture, loss of strength, loss of function, and pain or discomfort. Clients wishing to improve any or all of these symptoms need to be evaluated to begin the process of discovering the roots of the issues. Then techniques are utilized to release bound tissues. Once released, the tissues are rejuvenated and can now be stretched properly. This is followed by strengthening and re-integrating those tissues to restore proper function. This is called Corrective Exercise.

 As time passes and activity levels drop off in the natural course of life, the body gradually loses strength and muscle tone. Gravity pulls down on us constantly. If we do not resist and maintain our strength, gravity slowly shifts the body out of position. The back bends forward. The shoulders also come forward and become rounded. The head now has been shifted along with the back and shoulders. In order to bring the eyes up to look at a level horizon the neck curves in compensation. In the lower body all of the forward curling of the spine torques the pelvis into an anterior tilt. This tilt puts a great deal of pressure on the lower back and often results in low back pain. With the pelvis tipped forward, the legs are forced to rotate out. This will make the knees shift in toward the center line and the ankles collapse. The feet over pronate and the arches fall flat. Now the entire chain of support is out of position. There is pressure where it doesn’t belong and the only way the nervous system can react is to send out pain signals. The chronic pain cycle continues to bend the body out of alignment. The pain gets worse. The body bends more. The pain gets worse and so on. The tissues of the body lengthen and shorten to adjust to the change in position and now some muscles and tissues are overly tensioned and others overly stretched.

 Left unchecked, it will eventually be impossible for the muscles to keep the head up. Swallowing will become difficult. And so will breathing. Walking will require a great effort and shuffling the feet will become the only way to get around. Fear of falling will be constantly in the back of the mind. This cycle can be broken. But it is easier to do the sooner it is recognized and addressed. Look around there are many people that haven’t let this happen to them. The secret is to move more, sooner, and with purpose.

 Clients in the Corrective Exercise program are taught how to use rollers and balls in applying self-myofascial release. Self-myofascial release breaks up knotted and bound connect tissue throughout the body. Long interwoven sheets of connective tissue create a network like a dense web weaving support from head to toe. If we sit too much, spend considerable time in poor posture or incorrect positions at work, get too little exercise, don’t stretch after exercise or hard physical work, don’t get enough sleep, or don’t get the proper treatment for aches and pains; then the connect tissues of the body can get stuck together in knots. These knots make moving properly impossible. When the bones of the joints move improperly, the surfaces where the bones meet become inflamed and painful. Self-myofascial release is the first step in correcting this situation.

Body Aches Once the connect tissues have been rejuvenated, clients can begin to stretch the muscles of the body. Many people report that they find stretching to be painful and so they do not stretch. Pain is not a part of stretching correctly. Clients are instructed in the proper stretching techniques for releasing muscle tension and improving flexibility.

 The muscles work in opposing pairs. One set of muscles will flex or bend a joint (such as the biceps bend the elbow joint). The opposing set will straighten the joint (as do the triceps that straighten the elbow joint). Unless exercised and stretched properly, the opposing muscles will come to be either overly shortened or overly lengthened. This can be seen in a person who stands in a bent over posture. The abdominal muscles are shortened and the muscles of the back are lengthened. Neither group of muscles is able to properly function any longer. Now the person most likely has back pain.

 Possessing good flexibility means being able to move the joints of the body through the correct and full range of motion at each joint. When the bones are not supported in good posture, the joints won’t be able to move through a full range of motion. Other joints and muscles will now have to compensate for the loss of mobility. This creates a pattern of movements that will also result in pain and discomfort in the affected muscles and joints.

 After the muscles and connective tissues are appropriately reconditioned, clients begin to strength the muscles. As the muscle become stronger, clients are able to maintain good posture longer throughout the day. This is the final step in reducing pain and improving function. The healthy and strong tissues now make daily living more enjoyable. The client also has the ability to recognize when the tissues are getting bound and stressed. And more important, they have the skills to deal with the problem to stay active and productive.