Our bodies have many different ways of protecting themselves from injury. For example, if you have a herniated disc in your spine, muscles around your spine will lock up to splint the joint. Your body wants to protect the nervous system and spine at all costs.
One way you may not realize your body protects itself is that it will keep muscles from working at their full capacity. This is called muscular inhibition. When your body is injured or if you have poor posture your muscle tone will change. Injured or shortened muscles will typically contract too much, and if they can’t fully relax opposing muscles won’t fire at their full strength. Over time, this will then influence more muscles along the same plane of the body to adjust to the postural changes or sustained injury. This can cause one side or portion of the body to be weaker and less coordinated.
The problem with all of this is that inhibition doesn’t turn off on its own. If muscles stay inhibited they can become problems in their own right. It makes you more prone to developing poor movement in your joints, which makes injury more likely. This sets you up for more inhibition later, creating a vicious cycle of injury and inhibition.
How to reverse muscular inhibition
If you want to undo muscular inhibition, usually you need to do some kind of mind-body practice. Yoga can help here, and so can qigong. Proper stretching & mindful movement can also help. But all of these things have a catch. Finding muscular inhibition usually requires a clinically-trained eye. This means you’ll need to do these things under a proper teacher, since the teacher can correct bad posture and poor movement that you think is normal.
Manual therapies like massage, acupuncture, and some physical therapy methods can also undo inhibition. These things help encourage the body to relax and even out muscle tone, and they can help fix injuries caused by inhibited muscles. But in the absence of injury, mind-body methods are better since they allow you to both fix the problem and learn to recognize it if it happens again in the future.
If you’re dealing with a chronically weak or injured side of your body, muscular inhibition may be playing a role. Consider a consultation to see if this is the problem. If so, we can help.