Common Postural Distortion Patterns

Good posture is important for establishing balance among the anatomical stability of a person. Optimal alignment of the kinetic chain is important for any integrated training program. If  there is an imbalance in the kinetic chain then other components must compensate. This decreases neuromuscular efficiency and increases the chance of injury. Poor posture during every day activities; sitting, standing, sleeping, and driving lead to muscle imbalances, joint dyfunctions and postural distortion patterns (upper crossed syndrome, lower crossed syndrome and pronation distortion syndrome).

Serial Distortion Patterns: are the state in which the functional and structural integrity of the kinetic chain is altered and in which compensations and adaptations occur. Training with proper posture will ensure the effectiveness of the muscle, joints and tissue to work in accordance to the task reducing injury.

Muscles function within in a certain amount of tension and length. This is known as the length-tension relationship. If a length-tension relationship within a muscle is compromised then alterations occur. Depending if the muscle is shortened or lengthened during the task at hand will determine the force production of the muscle. Weak, imbalanced muscles will result in a weakening effect of the target muscle which will then ilicit the recruitment of the secondary muscle groups to fire and help with the work. These compensations can be useful for a short term acute situation, but will only produce further imbalances and complications to the kinetic chain the longer the dysfunctional pattern continues. The reason for this is because the secondary muscle groups are not strong enough to support the load of the primary muscle group. Over time the primary muscle group will become weaker and more dependent on the secondary muscles to do the work. Imbalances will then occur and this will affect the entire kinetic chain and posture. 

Reciprocal Inhibition: A tight muscle, causes decreased contability (neural drive) in its functional antagonist. For example, a tight psoas will decrease the contrability of the gluteus maximus. This process results in decreased force production by the prime mover and leads to compensations by the synergists (synergistic dominance)

Synergistic Dominance: Synergists compensate for a weak or inhibited prime mover in attempts to maintain force production and functional movement patterns. This process leads to poor movement patterns and decreased neuromuscular control.

When establishing an integrated training program it is important to consider exercising within the parameters of proper posture and kinetic chain balance and stability. Failure to work each muscle group equally will utilimately produce muscular, joint, tissue imbalance. It needs to be understood that the systems of the body work in a synergistic pattern to help produce force, tension and work. Not knowing your strength and weaknesses within your own kinetic chain can promote dynfunctional patterns. It is important to see a specialist in the area of postural alignment testing and integrated program design to develop the right program for you. 

Daryl Conant, M.Ed