In university, when we studied anatomy we were taught to dissect the body and memorize every single muscle individually: origin, insertion, action, and innervation. And we were trained to focus on them individually as well during rehabilitation after any injury, as if the human body works that way! Instead of that, the human body is a great mechanical machine that works in integrated rhythm to produce any simple movement.
Food for thought, Name that one muscle that works when you pick up your coffee mug? Yes! I agree, that’s kind of impossible because the body segments work together to generate that nice and smooth “task” you want to perform.
Another nice example, during the biceps curls exercise, is the biceps muscle the only muscle loaded? I doubt it, because your grip and forearm muscles are working, as well as your shoulders. Don’t get me wrong, yes this exercises will focus on your biceps mainly more than any other muscle working but the body works in integration.
Those examples are just about simple movements, imagine what happens during complex movements such as squats or deadlifts? If your mind is not aware of which muscles to recruit during those movements than the brain will look at them as a task to be done. What does that mean? It means your brain will look at it as an object to be lifted from point A to point B and your body will utilize anything to do it instead of using the proper muscles required to perform that task with efficiency.
There is a thought to be 4 myofascial slings in the human body which are responsible of creating efficient movement patterns. Basically these slings are muscles connected together through fascial lines. In another words, the slings consist of muscular chains that work together in order to produce integrated movement.
Injuries, daily habits, or even inactivity may affect the functionality of these slings, once this distribution happens the whole chain of integration will fall apart and the body will develop functional asymmetries. Wait! What’s “functional asymmetries”? It’s when one side of the body is stronger, more stable, or even moves better than the other.
In this article I will focus on the posterior oblique sling (POS), which is one of the myofascial slings that assist the movement between the pelvis and the trunk. It connects the latissmisus dorsi and the gluteus maximus via the thoracolumbar fascia. This sling has a major role in stabilizing your sacroiliac joint (SIJ or SI joint) especially in day to day movements such as walking. As we said earlier, any injury in one of these two muscles will affect the function of the sling, and it will cause “idiopathic back pain” through SIJ instability. For active individuals or athletes, it’s absolutely crucial to be able to feel and activate those muscles in any functional movement (i.e. squats and deadlifts) to be able to lift heavier and safer.
Incase the functional asymmetry was developed due to distribution of the POS, the “bird-dog” exercise comes in handy. This simple, yet effective, movement doesn’t need fancy equipment to be done. It helps to reestablish the neural pathways to generate that coordinated and integrated movement. It’s not always weights and resistance that builds strength, sometimes all what you need is a simple and controlled movement to simulate the brain rather than build more muscle strength.
When your body is fully engaged, with proper technique and focus (hence: movement efficiency) you will be amazed of how much force and strength your body can generate.