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Structural Imbalance Physiotherapy

You may have chanced upon this word “structural imbalance” before, online or speaking to your friends, or even seeing a physio for your body pains and aches.

To understand imbalanced structures, it’s good to understand first, what is “balanced structures”.

Structural Balance

It simply means the optimal posture and position for our body, be it our bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments etc – its balanced means that whenever there’s a force or load that passes through the body, this weight will be offloaded and managed fairly and balanced.

Like when you carry a load, it’s so much easy to carry 5 KG on each hand VS carry 9 KG on ONE hand.

Structural imbalance is the opposite of structural balance

Means that your body, bones, joints, tendons ligaments etc, arent positioned effectively to bear load equally.

Using the same example of the 5 KG weight in each hands; what happens if one shoulder is higher? Or one hip is lower? Or your back is bent a little sideways. What happens? The weight gets thrown offbalance, and you’d have to compensate to make it more normal.

That’s a simple example.

A deeper example, for example, is our knee joint. It’s surrounded by muscles…but what happens, if ONE side of the muscles is tighter or looser than the other?

You see what I’m getting at?

Then there’d be these nuances where the forces that go through specific joints, muscles or tendons, do not go through the joints normally. This can happen to any joint or muscle in our body.

When the structures that makes the joint are balanced, they can work smoothly and harmoniously together. Conversely, when they’re not balanced, they may work against each other, in a disharmonious manner — causing inefficiencies and even injuries.

What eventually happens with imbalanced structures

Weight and load is shared effectivel and equally when it’s balanced. Once any structure is out of place, then the load and strain will not be balanced. One structure may be more strained, and another structure is unused.

Over time…it starts a vicious cycle:

  • Part 1: specific parts of the joints get worn out. Maybe a ligament or tendon gets strained. Muscles get painful.
  • Part 2: this causes more imbalance and compensatory movement, which leads to
  • Part 1: specific parts of the joints get worn out. Maybe a ligament or tendon gets strained. Muscles get painful.
  • Repeat ad naseum

A standard example:

Mr A develops pain in his left knee after he had a light fall. He thinks that it’s “just a small injury, will heal on its own”. He waits, and tries to cope with painkillers. The pain isn’t great, so he continue to limp and hobble around. Gradually, the work that’s supposed to be done by his left knee, is taken up by his left hip and ankle. His right knee also has been taking more load, and is starting to feel painful. All that hobbling around is also causing his lower back to be painful, and what started off as a simple one left knee pain, ended up with additional 4 other secondary injuries. And his left knee is STILL painful.

Where To Next?

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