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
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
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
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.