The concept movement balance refers to the innate ability to demonstrate all your movement potential. This implies that you move without any restriction or dysfunction, and have maintained all the fundamental movement patterns you were born with. Although this sounds easy enough, most people in recent times have lost the ability to perform these basic movement patterns, for reasons explained under Causes of Movement Dysfunction.
Whether a professional tennis player, football player, or a weekend warrior, your basic functional needs are specie specific, not sport specific. To excel in a specific activity we do need to develop special skills, but those skills are to be build on basic functionality. Good sport specific skills are build on natural athleticism, not the other way around. Ignorance of these foundational skills has left many with the perception that if we simply exercise more we will automatically move better. The reality is that we don’t: a narrow and often impatient emphasize on sport specific or dynamic exercises at the cost of athletic balance, is leaving numerous sportsmen under performing or sidelined with injury. As with the other cornerstones, Movement balance is not only essential for sporting performance, but for optimal living. And optimal living is not possible when suffering from chronic pain.
The majority complaints of back, knee, or hip pain which millions struggle with yearly, has it’s roots in a functional movement dysfunction. However, due to the great ignorance to the concept of movement that still exist amongst the majority of medical professionals, physiotherapist and sports trainers, most of these complaints are treated as medical problems, when they are in fact movement problems. Treating a movement problem with medical solutions does not address the causes of pain or dysfunction, which is why so many people often still struggle with their original pain or dysfunction years after the original procedure.
The inability to perform a foundational movement pattern is referred to as a movement dysfunction. A movement dysfunctions is the result of a movement imbalance, which has significance and application on various levels. Firstly, movement balance 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).
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. The body always functions as a whole, and over time this compensation leads to adjustments in whole movement patterns, in which the brain records the compensatory muscle and joint activity as it’s new standard.
This brings us to a third level of understanding movement imbalance: altered movement patterns eventually lead to left-right asymmetries in the body. It is this form of imbalance that is most associated with an increased risk of injury.
A movement imbalance could also be indicative of an imbalance between upper and lower body development; anterior and posterior muscles; or pulling and pushing movements.