“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” – Bruce Lee
Life, it seems, is a constant series of challenges and compromises. Not so much moral or ethical compromises, but a myriad of course adjustments and minor shifts or pivots. We go through life without even thinking about most of these.
Many times, too, our physical bodies make a series of adjustments, as well. We know these as compensation patterns.
And they can be painful.
Understanding Compensation Patterns
The human body is a marvelously complex and intricate entity. And the interaction of the brain and muscles is a significant component of that complexity.
Unfortunately, conditions can arise that cause those interactions to begin dysfunctioning. And one of the results can be the development of compensation patterns.
In the human body, no single muscle performs a movement. A movement occurs, instead, through the sequences of muscle contractions and releases to accomplish a specific movement or series of movements.
When primary muscles cannot work properly for movement, the brain compensates for that muscle failure by signaling other muscles to perform the movement instead.
An article from Manchester-Bedford Myoskeletal notes that,
“There are many causes for muscle failure: weakness, nerve inhibition, lifestyle and poor postural habit, repetitive motion, injury, surgery, environmental, overuse, joint immobilization, problems with joint stabilization, dysfunctional movement, etc.”
According to another source,
“The body uses compensation patterns to perform motions when strength and mobility are not sufficient. Compensation patterns can form when a muscle or group of muscles is unable to properly move a joint through a range of motion. They can also form when there is a restriction within a joint that does not allow the joint to move freely, regardless of muscular strength.”
Simply put, a compensation pattern is an alternate neuromuscular strategy that the body employs for movement when the normal neuromuscular strategy cannot be used for a given movement, or to avoid pain when performing that movement in a normal manner.
How a Compensation Pattern Develops
Three can be several causes, or triggers, for a compensation pattern.
For example, you may injure a muscle and a receptor is damaged as a result, your occupation requires long hours sitting at a desk, restricting healthy blood flow, or an injury or surgery has resulted in some adhesions in or near muscle tissue.
The result can be a muscle that sends false, or altered, information to the brain, which causes the brain to begin creating a compensation pattern. The complexity and versatility of the human brain also means that most compensations can occur unnoticed.
In structural design, structural engineers use a triangle shape of materials to distribute shear forces so that their compressive and tensile strengths are at their strongest. In a similar fashion, the human brain creates triangular compensation patterns by increasing and decreasing tension in muscles.
However, while these compensation patterns can be effective, allowing the body to use it indefinitely, these are still dysfunctional movement patterns. Sometimes, too, the compensation will become so dysfunctional that it will create additional compensations. Left unchecked, these unhealthy – and often painful – pyramidal patterns can grow so large that muscles seemingly completely unrelated to the original damaged or injured muscle are affected.
The result is that a person can be experiencing recurring or chronic muscle pain in an area that is significantly removed from the location of the originating cause. And that often leads to either a misdiagnosis or, at the very least, ineffectual treatment of pain symptoms.
At Pain and Performance Solutions, our goal is to eliminate this compensation and restore the proper function of your muscles.
And this is the primary purpose of a technique we use known as NeuroKinetic Therapy™, or NKT.
By employing specific muscular challenges using NKT, we are able to identify and eliminate the primary source of the dysfunction and then reinforce this breakthrough with at-home exercises and muscle release work.
Pain and Performance Solutions, Exercise, and Living Pain-Free
The first step in recovering from pain and becoming pain-free is when we get to know you and your pain issues. Once you make your first appointment, we’ll want to learn about your present discomfort as well as any history of pain.
After providing you with a full examination, we can determine which form of treatment is needed to help you on your road to recovery.
Often, when pain occurs, our bodies will try to compensate for the pain in order to allow us to get through the day with less pain. However, because our bodies have shifted that pain around to compensate for our discomfort, this often leads to other areas of pain.
Getting chronic pain relief with therapies such as Anatomy in Motion (AiM) and Active Release Technique® can only begin when we can understand where your pain started. That could mean it started previously with another injury you might have sustained.
Your trust in us and your transparency is key. Getting your body to work properly and healthy is the only way to achieve total recovery. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any, and all questions that you may have.