Compensation: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
In the fitness industry, there are a lot of buzzwords used to make something sound really new and innovative, or sound really bad to help the consumer believe in a product or service. The word I wanted to help define is compensate/compensating. Webster’s dictionary defines compensate as “to counterbalance; to adjust so as to offset or counterbalance variations to or produce equilibrium”. Continue reading this article for a better understanding of compensation from an Ortho-Kinetics® mindset.
When one body part is weak, other muscles will try to work harder to compensate for these weaknesses since the body’s main goal is to reach equilibrium. For example, if a person is doing a lunge and their knee dives there must be a muscular weakness that they are avoiding, and as a result, the body is favoring a position of strength and taking a “detour” around the position(s) of weakness. To clarify, compensation is related to a non-ideal or inefficient posture and/or muscular performance.
The Good. How can bad posture and poor muscular performance be a good thing when most programs are trying to get rid of a person’s compensations? Our body continuously tries to reach equilibrium when a weakness or injury has been detected. This equilibrium is reached through compensation, the body’s way of working around the particular weakness or injury to help the body function correctly. It is absolutely necessary by our bodies so we can be productive human beings. Without it, we would all be in wheel chairs and dead at a very early age. We were deigned in a way that we could go about our daily lives and get around.
The Bad. As we grow older, these compensations have an impact on our bodies. For the most part (barring disease like cancer, etc.), our quality of life is dependent on the health of our joints. The more flexible and loose someone feels is usually a good indicator of good joint health. If we have poor functioning muscles, our bones will start to crash into themselves with more and more force that eventually starts to wear them down; however we can change our posture to accommodate the weaknesses or injuries. This is where we can start to feel those irritations and “-itis’s” like tendonitis in many different places.
The Ugly. If we do nothing to address a poorly functioning muscular system and stay active, we will eventually come to a point where our body can no longer counterbalance, and it will let us know by increasing inflammation and pain to where we have to slow down and keep decreasing our physical activity and quality of life. Unfortunately, some people who get to this point have no other solution other than surgery or replacement of the joint.
The Alternate Road. The best way to try and prevent or slow down the bad and ugly from happening is to find and address these compensations. This is one of the top priorities of an Ortho-Kinetics® Trainer/Therapist. If the counterbalances can be found and systematically improved, the chances of higher quality of life as one ages improves dramatically. Remember, pain is your body telling you that something is not working. Even if you are not in pain, it is still a good idea to have an assessment done frequently to make sure that compensations are not building. Just like we take our cars in to get them serviced to limit the wear and tear on the vehicle, the same can be done for our bodies via assessment and implementing proper training progressions.
Lead Ortho-Kinetics® Trainer