Five overuse injuries associated with right/left imbalances

Five overuse injuries associated with right/left imbalances

Understanding how your body moves can allow you to understand your injury better, adjust your technique and monitor your rehabilitation progress.

Endurance training involves a lot of repetitive motion and overuse injuries caused by muscle imbalance are particularly common among athletes putting in long hours running or swimming. Mostly we are alerted to injuries only once we feel persistent pain or discomfort, then we face the challenge of unravelling the clues to the cause of the injury.

INCUS|NOVA allows insights into how your body is moving differently on your left and right sides, this can prove invaluable in working out what may have caused or exacerbated the pain you are feeling. It can also provide an ‘early-warning system’ of changes in how your body is moving that can help you to reduce or manage your training to prevent an injury from worsening.

Five common injuries caused by muscle imbalance

1. Shoulder impingement
2. Neck pain
3. Knee and hip pain
4. Piriformis syndrome
5. Leg length discrepancy

Shoulder impingement

Symptoms: pain in the upper part of your shoulder, pain when you lift your arm above your head, feeling of weakness.

When your chest muscles become tight and your upper back muscles become elongated and weak it causes the shoulder to sit in a forward position. The joint space in the shoulder joint decreases causing compression to one or more of the tendons. Shoulder impingement can be particularly problematic for freestyle swimmers. Learn more about shoulder pain and body roll metrics in swimming HERE

Neck pain

Symptoms: Soreness, restriction of movement, hunched shoulders, headaches

There are many potential causes of neck pain but an increasingly common postural issue is ‘text-neck’ brought on by our modern habit of looking down at hand-held devices a lot of our day. Similarly sitting slumped at a desk or working on a computer perched in our laps.  Spending a long time with our neck tilted forward and down means that muscles at the back of the neck can become lengthened and muscles across the front of the chest shortened. Neck pain can occur when swimming from rotating your head to breathe, particularly if your shoulders are not moving freely. 

Knee and hip pain

Symptoms: Pain around the knee cap, outside of upper thigh and hips

Running gait can contribute to knee and hip pain, particularly if you are landing on one leg more heavily than the other. Tracking down the cause of knee and hip pain can be tricky, it can stem from foot or arch problems, your running technique or muscle imbalances amongst others. The more information you can gather from observing your movement when running the better. Monitoring changes in stride can help you to see what triggers pain and looking for left/right differences in your Take-Off Acceleration and Landing Deceleration metrics can help to unpick the cause of the pain. Learn more about how to use these metrics HERE

Piriformis syndrome

Symptoms: Dull pain in buttocks, pain worse when walking up or down stairs, pain increased by sitting down.

Your sciatic nerve runs through or over your piriformis muscle,  if the sciatic nerve is compressed you can experience pain that radiates down your leg or legs. Your piriformis muscle can be tightened from crossing your legs a lot when seated and imbalanced hip muscles or glute muscle activity during running or cycling. 

Piriformis syndrome can cause hip restriction, which can shorten your stride or cause you to land more heavily on one side, you may also notice one leg doesn’t pick-up as fast as the other and has longer contact time. Looking at your run metrics, as explained HERE can help you spot this in your run gait and see how your rehabilitation is working to correct it.

Leg length discrepancy

Symptoms: pain on one side, twisting posture, heavy landing on one side, lower back or knee pain.

Virtual leg length discrepancy is where the pelvis is not level so your legs appear to be different lengths. This can be because of injury, trauma or due to an imbalance in your hip, low-back, and leg muscles. It will affect your running gait and can be a cause of persistent lower back and lower limb injury. Using your INCUS | NOVA will help you to see if there are left/right differences in how you run.

Injury fixes

Unravelling and understanding the cause of your injury often needs a multi-pronged approach, led by a physiotherapist. INCUS can help provide valuable ‘clues’ in making the diagnosis as injury expert The Endurance Physio, Mike James, explains “a lot of my work as a physio is about playing detective.  Lots of clinical time is questioning, trying to piece the causes of injury together. Looking for the activity that triggers injury. INCUS provides more pieces of the jigsaw in a way that is completely objectively.”

If you have a persistent injury try using the data from your INCUS|NOVA – it might just provide the vital missing piece of the puzzle that gets you back to your peak performance.
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