An Alignment Principle to Balance Muscular Action with Ken Blank

Blog #1("Balanced Muscular Action") discussed how the action of a postural muscle against its unbalanced opposing phasic muscle can cause such problems as postural dysfunction, reduced range of motion, and joint pain. Blog #2("Postural and Phasic Muscles") addressed how certain muscles tend to be tight and strong(postural) while others tend to be loose and weak(phasic.)  This blog will introduce a principle to align each section of the body to prevent or to reverse problems caused by muscle imbalance.

Each muscle is anchored in two places, its origin and its insertion. The origin is the part of the muscle closest to the center of the body.  The insertion is the part of the muscle farthest away from the center of the body. As an example the part of the bicep closest to the elbow is the insertion and the part of the bicep closest to the shoulder is the origin.  A muscle contracts moving from insertion to origin. It lengthens moving from origin to insertion.

There are two types of muscle engagements, concentric and eccentric. A concentric contraction strengthens a muscle from insertion to origin. An eccentric engagement strengthens a muscle from origin to insertion.  An example of of a concentric contraction is bending the elbow to contract the bicep by  muscular engagement. Maintaining that muscular engagement as the elbow is straightened is an eccentric lengthening. When the elbow is bent the bicep engages from insertion to origin. When the elbow is straightened the bicep lengthens from origin to insertion. 

The Alignment Principle: Concentrically engage a phasic muscle. Then eccentrically lengthen an opposing postural muscle.  

Example: The tricep opposes the bicep. The tricep tends to be a phasic muscle and the bicep tends to be a postural muscle. With the arm straight, concentrically engage the tricep from insertion(elbow) to origin(shoulder.) Then eccentrically(maintaining engagement) lengthen the bicep from origin(shoulder) to insertion(elbow.)  

If this principle is applied section by section, the entire body can be aligned. Alignment can prevent or reverse joint problems in the knee, hip, shoulder, foot, low back, upper back, elbow, or neck. 

Stay Tuned! Next blog: The thigh, hamstrings, quads, and adductors