Asymmetries: What’s the Problem?

Asymmetries are some of the biggest predictors of injury in our population, especially in athletes. By ‘asymmetries’, I am referring to joints and/or muscles that perform differently from one side to the other.

Example: A sprinter with 20 degrees of hip extension in the left hip and 35 degrees of hip extension in the right hip is at risk of injury. Why? When a sprinter is at full stride, hip extension is utilized in the trailing leg. If, with every stride, the difference between the left and right hip motion is 15 degrees, the pelvis, hips, and lumbar spine (at the very least) will absorb that difference in the form of strain. When the tissue threshold is met, the sprinter will develop pain.

Now comes the interesting part. Most health care practitioners are trained to treat the sprinter’s pain. As such, this athlete will receive stretches, strengthening exercises, therapies to decrease the pain, manipulations, and possibly medication or surgery. But what if there were a system designed that could have caught this injury before it ever happened? Well, there is. Check out the following website: http://graycookmovement.com/?p=29. If you are an athlete or health care professional and do not know Gray Cook, you should change that. Asymmetries have been shown to be reliable predictors of injury. In the example above, it would be better for the sprinter to have 20 degrees of hip extension bilaterally than to have asymmetrical findings. In the coming years, I ‘predict’ (speaking of predictions) that Cook’s FMS (Functional Movement Screen) system will continue to gain popularity in athletes as well as non-athletes. With strong predictors of injury, such as asymmetries, within the system, our patients and clients can not afford for us to under-utilize the FMS.

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