This brings us to the next levels of significance of movement imbalance: if any joint in the body do not posses the above mentioned balance between mobility and stability, there is a demand for compensation placed on adjacent joints to allow the body to still execute the required movement. Over time, this compensation leads to adjustments in whole movement patterns, in which the body records the compensatory muscle and joint activity as it’s new normal. These altered movement patterns eventually lead to left-right asymmetries in the body, which is a third level of defining movement imbalance. According to research evidence, this form of imbalance is most associated with increased risk of injury.

Movement imbalance could also be indicative of an imbalance between:

  • Upper and lower body development;
  • Anterior muscles and posterior muscles;
  • Pulling and pushing movements.     

We live in a time when exercise culture has become big business, with quick fitness fixes and new Super Programs seeing the light every few years. All of these programs depart from the point of view that most human beings without disabilities and relative youth on their side, are capable of performing any exercise and will thus benefit equally from it. Truth is that due to a variety of factors, the vast majority of us develop some or other form of movement dysfunction or imbalance. As a result, even if a similar aged group of people have a similar level of conditioning, they might not all benefit from the same exercise program. In fact, unless individual specific movement imbalances or asymmetries have been identified and adequately addressed, engaging in these group training programs only lead to further compensation and eventually breakdown.

I hear you ask, what is a movement imbalance? The term movement imbalance has significance and application on different levels. Firstly, it refers to the balance between mobility and stability around every joint in the body. Each joint requires a certain amount of mobility and a certain amount of stability to function optimally. A balance between the necessary mobility and stability allows the joint in question to stand up to the movement demands imposed on it, without asking for compensation from neighboring joints. An imbalance therefore refers to the joint either being too mobile (lacking stability) or too stable (lacking mobility).

Movement Explained

I’m often amazed at the strange looks on peoples faces when I tell them I specialize in Movement training. No short explanation suffice, as for most the concept that anyone would need to be taught how to move, is completely foreign and even odd. Mentioning the concept movement balance really throws the spanner in the works, as most people then think of maintaining equilibrium while standing on one foot.    

Maybe the following analogy by Gray Cook helps to explain the need for movement training: “We eat, work and recreate differently than our ancestors and populations without our conveniences and sedentary lifestyle. Many of us are overfed and undernourished at the same time. A focus on food quantity and convenience instead of quality has produced this result. Unfortunately, the same argument should be made for our exercise.” Due to modern lifestyle changes in favor of convenience and limited physical activity, most of us have given up the fundamental movement patterns we as humans were supposed to posses. To add insult to injury, many erroneously assume that by adding quantity of movement we automatically address poor quality of movement.