Megan Johnson McCullough -Kinetic Chain: How movement happens – Head, shoulders, knees, & toes.
When a chain moves, all the links move as part of the system. The chain in our body consists of bones stacked on joints. Our kinetic chain might remind you of the old saying, “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes…knees and toes”. The kinetic chain of the body for movement consists of the head, shoulders, hips, knees, and feet. When the chain is lined up correctly, the head is neutral, which means the ear is in line with the shoulder. The shoulders are neutral and are in line with the hip joint. The hips are neutral which means the knees and toes are straight ahead.
Dysfunction – -When the chain reaction consists of a faulty component, dysfunction spreads. For example, if someone has poor posture and slouches, the shoulders are not neutral. The shift to the side means the hips are misaligned which means the knees are not pointed straight ahead and neither are the toes. Over time, slouching becomes the new normal for your body. From the feet to the shoulders, the kinetic chain is now causing muscle imbalances.
Tug of war – -A muscle imbalance means that either the muscle is tight or shortened or it is lengthened and weakened. Think of a shoe that has Velcro. When the strap is not all the way across (shortened), the shoe is too loose to wear. When the strap is stretched out past the end point, the shoe is too tight. The best way to wear the shoe is when the Velcro strap is matched up end to end. In the body, this shortening or lengthening causes the joints to be out of place. Now, other muscles are called in to the job. These muscles are being asked to perform tasks they are not meant for. This leads to movement compensations.
The substitute — Imagine a basketball team playing a game. The best players start the game. The players on the bench are not the star players. They enter the game when called upon. The star player rolls his ankle and has to come out of the game. Now the substitutes are sent in. They don’t play at the same caliber as the starter, but they learn to get the job done. In our body, an example of this would be the low back or the hamstrings filling in for the glutes when the hip flexors are too tight. This of course leads to low back pain.
What this means — Always make sure to check for good form when exercising. Repetitive movement patterns done incorrectly lead to kinetic chain dysfunction which leads to injury. Your feet turning out could actually be the result of poor posture. Then when running mile after mile with the feet turned out, the hips, knees, and back take the brunt of this misalignment. Faulty movement patterns create overactive muscles that should be minding their own business and weak muscles that are either too tight or too loose. When on the leg press, check that the toes are pointed forward. When squatting, make sure there isn’t a weight shift to one side or the other. When sitting, don’t drop those shoulders or lean to the side. Be conscientious of your chain, because each link is important for your health and proper movement patterns.