What Is Corrective Exercise Anyway?

All of our muscles have a proper length in which they work best. Poor posture, repetitive movement, past injury…they all play a role in altering this optimal length. When proper length of the muscle is altered then pain, injury and decreased performance are all possibilities. Corrective exercise is a protocol used to restore then normal length-tension relationship between muscles and improve the efficiency of your movement. 

There are generally 4 phases in this protocol—or the corrective exercise continuum as it’s called.

Phase 1 (Inhibit) uses self-myofacial techniques such as a foam roller to release tension and inhibit overactive muscles in the body. Think of this as getting a deep tissue massage only it’s free!! 

Phase 2 (Lengthen) uses stretching (such as static stretching) to increase the length and range of motion of the tissue.

Off-Topic Alert---if you do phase 1 and 2 before you go to bed, you are going to have a great sleep!

Phase 3 (Activate) is basically strengthening exercises used to activate or strengthen underactive muscles

Phase 4 (Integrate) which is a total-body exercise used to retrain the newly stretched and strengthened muscles to work correctly together. This is the "bringin' it all together" phase.

To identify these muscle imbalances, a qualified professional could use a variety of techniques. I like the overhead squat assessment and, when possible, the single leg squat assessment. There are a variety of shoulder assessments that can be done and of course just plain ol' observing someone’s posture or watching the way a person walks and moves about on their own. I’ve seen people do great on assessments only to find imbalances later on once we hit the gym and watched clients actually performing exercises.

There are several movement impairments that we look for and can correct. One such impairment is the anterior pelvic tilt. Let's have a more in-depth loook at that.

 

 

Low Back Arches (Anterior Pelvic Tilt) 

You'll know a low back arch when you see one. The butt sticks out and you can see an excessive arch in the small of the back (picture any Kardashian taking a selfie) This muscle imbalance is fairly common and is caused by some muscles being a little more overactive than they should be and some muscles being underactive.  

The overactive muscles (the muscles we would inhibit and stretch in phase 1 and 2 of the corrective exercise continuum) are the lats and the hip flexors--specifically the psoas and the rectus femoris. Because these muscles are tight, they tend to pull the pelvis into a tilt. The psoas and rectus femoris pull the hip into flexion on the front side and the lats, through its connection to the thoracolumbar fascia, pulls the hip up at the back.

The underactive muscles (those we need to strengthen or "activate" are the hamstrings, glute max (the "butt") and the core stabilizer muscles. Interestingly, because the hip is tilted to the front, the hamstrings will actually be in a lengthened position. Because the hamstrings may have to compensate-or pick up the sack-for weak glutes, you may actually feel strain in the hamstrings. When some people feel this strain, they think they have to stretch their hamstrings when actually that would be the exact opposite of what you should do.

There is a quote that I wish I had made up but it belongs to NASM Master Trainer Rick Richey and he said "feelings aren't facts" so just be aware that because a muscle feels tight, that may not always be the case.

Here is a great video of an assessment for a low back arch.

Assessing                                                              

  

Low back arch can cause low back pain, hamstring and groin strain and knee pain. That's bad enough, but if you are an athlete or weekend warrior then your performance is suffering needlessly. There is a solution to correcting this impairment. 

If you would like to know more about anterior pelvic tilt (I could write more but the internet only has so much space available) or to find out how to correct this or other impairments just contact me and I will be more than happy to help you out.