muscles keep your body upright and allow you to move. Good muscle
strength and balance are critical to maintain proper posture and
minimize muscle tension. Your muscles function much like the wires
that hold up a tall radio or television antenna. If the wires
are equally strong on all sides, the antenna will stand up straight.
If one of the wires becomes weak or breaks, the antenna will either
lean to the side or collapse. The same is true with your body.
If the muscles on all sides of your spine are balanced and strong,
your body will stand up straight and strong. Unfortunately, most
people don’t have balanced and strong muscles – due,
once again, to lack of exercise and to misalignments of the spine.
Muscles are very efficient at getting stronger or weaker in response
to the demands placed on them. Since most of us sit at a desk,
drive a car, and sit on the sofa at home, many of our muscles
are not challenged. Consequently, they become weak. At the same
time, the muscles that are constantly used throughout the day
become strong. This imbalance of muscle strength contributes to
poor posture and chronic muscle tension. Left unchecked, muscle
imbalances tend to get worse, not better, because of a phenomenon
called "reciprocal inhibition."
Reciprocal inhibition literally means "shutting down the
opposite." For all of the muscles that move your body in
one direction, there are opposing muscles that move the body in
the opposite direction. In order to keep these muscles from working
against each other, when the body contracts one muscle group,
it forces the opposing group to relax -- it shuts down the opposite
muscles. When consistently only one set of muscles is used, the
opposing group, from being continuously shut-down, is liable to
This phenomenon is especially important to people who work at
a desk, because all day long the same muscles in the upper back
and chest area of the body are used. This means that all day long
the body is essentially shutting down the opposite muscles in
the middle back. Over time, the muscles in the middle back become
very weak because they are not being worked like the muscles in
the front. This contributes to poor posture and chronic muscle
spasms and pain. The easiest way to correct this imbalance is
to do specific exercises which will increase the strength of the
back muscles, along with manual therapy and chiropractic care.
Once the muscles in your middle back are strong, the tightness
and poor posture simply disappear.