Did you know your brain will create tension patterns to compensate for a painful area? That one single injury can cause problems in a seemingly unrelated area? Hmmm…what does that mean for muscle tension??
Welll…say your left foot hurts from stepping on a lego. You start favoring that leg and putting less weight on it. Do that long enough and you’ll end up with a tension pattern that hikes up that left side a little for you, resulting in a pelvis that is higher on the left.
Theeenn your low back gets all grumpy, with tension on the left side and over stretching on the right. Now, since your spine is a nice straight line this throws your upper body off to the right. What happens next you might ask? Well, your brain will tell your muscles to tighten in the left mid-back vicinity to pull your shoulders back over. Inevitably your muscles, poor dumb creatures that they are, will pull to far so you’ll have to tip your head slightly to the right. Mission accomplished: Eyes now at the level! Way to go brain :p
So what do we have now: a left foot that hurts, left IT band all tight, a sore rear end, low back pain, shoulder tension, a tight neck and probably headaches. Again…Way to go brain.
Now this is a slight exaggeration of a lego incident, but similar to what we see in massage all the time. One thing in an unrelated area causing a zig-zag of cranky muscles. A cross-tension pattern.
“But how can I prevent this atrocity from happening to me” you might ask your friendly massage therapist. My advice: learn to be “body aware”. Check yourself before you wreck yourself as my honey would say (though I think he’s referring to my attitude or something *insert rolling of eyes here*).
Anywho, the pelvis is a good place to start. Go look in the mirror. Start by checking your hips at the little bony points in the front, called the ASIS. Is one side higher or farther backward? What about your shoulders? Any difference there? If so you may have an alignment issue, which can cause a tension pattern of compensating muscles. If you see any of these variations it’s a good idea to visit your massage therapist or chiropractor to check for any potential problems and prevent future discomfort.