Muscle Imbalance - The Cause of CTS & Upper Extremity Dysfunctions

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> ERGONOMICS
> GOLFERS ELBOW
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> REPETITIVE STRESS
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> TENNIS ELBOW
> TRIGGER FINGER

 

Computers and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

People have been using their hands for decades without the severity of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Repetitive Strain Injury cases that are prevalent in today's society. The reason is that most tasks today require unidirectional resistive force (i.e. typing, mousing, gripping a steering wheel, etc.), therefore leading to a muscle imbalance between the overused (overdeveloped) muscle group and the underused (underdeveloped) muscle group.

Muscle imbalances have been dealt with in sports for years but the same concept has never been related to the hands for some reason in either sports or work activities.


EXAMPLE OF MUSCLE IMBALANCE IN SPORTS: Professional golfers and baseball players have a high occurrence of back pain, as they are constantly swinging the golf club or baseball bat with force from left to right or right to left. This leads to an over development of the spinal rotators that rotate in one direction (right to left or left to right), causing nerve impingement and back pain. How do sports trainers / therapists address this?

Have the athlete stretch the overdeveloped spinal rotators and perform resistive type training to increase the strength of the underdeveloped spinal rotators, generally by having them swing the baseball bat or golf club in the opposite direction in order to develop the opposing spinal rotators thus creating muscle balance in the spine and reducing the impingement and associated symptoms.

   

Correcting muscle imbalances throughout he body, no matter where they are, involves an approach that combines both stretching and strengthening. When you treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome by stretching the wrist/finger flexor group, you are lengthening it. Once you are done stretching / lengthening that muscle group, what is going to keep it from shortening again and returning to its previous length? The answer is that the opposing muscle group, in this case the finger/wrist extensor group, must be exercised and strengthened/shortened in order to eliminate the slack created from stretching/lengthening the flexor group. This will cause the flexor group to maintain its elongated state and the muscle imbalance will be corrected and the carpal tunnel will maintain optimal size, therefore eliminating impingement of the soft tissue structures within.

By correcting muscle imbalances throughout the entire body it is possible to eliminate a wide variety of disorders, returning individuals back to their previous professions and recreational activities pain free.

RESOURCES SUPPORTING THE CAUSE/EFFECT OF MUSCLE IMBALANCE:

* "If certain muscle groups are underused, opposing muscle groups will be overused. Muscles in either a lengthened or shortened position will be at a mechanical disadvantage and weak. The overused group will hypertrophy, and the underused group will continue to be weak. This combination produces a self perpetuating condition that maintains the abnormal posture and muscle imbalance." Philip E. Higgs, M.D. and Susan E. Mackinnon, M.D. Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri. Annu. Rev. Med. 1995. 46:1-16

"Muscle balance must be restored with specific exercises. Otherwise, the already strong and overused muscles get stronger, and the weak and underused muscles remain weak. Individuals get good at using the overused muscles and must be trained specifically to recruit and strengthen the weak underused muscles." Philip E. Higgs, M.D. and Susan E. Mackinnon, M.D. Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri. Annu. Rev. Med. 1995. 46:1-16

"All of the extrinsic hand muscles become involved in a power grip, in proportion to the strength of the grip."........ "Strong agonist-antagonist interactions are needed between the flexors and extensors of the hand and fingers to produce forceful hand-grip. Powerful flexion of the distal phalanges requires strong activity also of the finger extensors." Janet G. Travell, M.D. and David G. Simons, M.D. Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction-The Trigger Point Manual. Volume1 Upper Extremities, Ch:35, pg. 501. Copyright 1983.

"Activation of the hand extensors (muscles), is essential to the power grip." Janet G. Travell, M.D. and David G. Simons, M.D. Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction-The Trigger Point Manual. Volume1 Upper Extremities, Ch:34, pg. 485. Copyright 1983.

"Actions of the finger extensors are primarily extension of the fingers, and the hand, at the wrist. They (extensors) make an essential contribution to forceful finger flexion." Janet G. Travell, M.D. and David G. Simons, M.D. Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction-The Trigger Point Manual. Volume1 Upper Extremities, Ch:35, pg. 497. Copyright 1983

AUTHOR: Mr. Anliker is a Therapist and Inventor of Therapeutic Exercise Products that are utilized by Corporations, Consumers and Medical Facilities around the world for the prevention and rehabilitation of repetitive strain injuries.