Yes, muscles are necessary for the body to move. But just as important is their role in stabilization – protecting and supporting the skeletal structure. Muscles must be strong and balanced. If this isn’t the case, joints suffer. Joint damage includes cartilage tears, degeneration, arthritis, and disc herniations.
Muscles rely on the brain to tell them exactly when to contract, how hard to contract, and when to relax. Trouble occurs when communication lapses.
The brain creates programs for certain motions. For example, a program is created and continually improved as one practices pitching a baseball. The more a pitch is practiced, the more efficient the program becomes. As long as everything is working properly, all is well.
Problems occur when these programs are somehow disrupted. Pain, poor posture, weak muscles, improper training, ill-fitting equipment can all cause the brain to reprogram these pathways into a less efficient system. Muscles will no longer contract when and how they should.
For example, if you step of a curb unexpectedly, your brain must tell your muscles to contract immediately to protect your spine and catch your step. The small stability muscles that control the position of your spinal joints need to contract first. They put the joints in a stable position. The muscles that contract next are the large muscles that keep you from falling. If your spinal stability muscles have a faulty program, your joints won’t be in a stable position. When the large muscles contract, they will load the joints in a bad position. Over time this improper loading, not just from the unexpected step but also from the sudden reach to catch a falling toddler or the misstep on the uneven sidewalk, leads to problems such as degeneration, arthritis, disc herniations, and soft tissue damage.
Specific stabilization exercises correct faulty motor programs. The brain must be retrained, so the exercises could be considered more of a “learning” exercise than a purely “strengthening” exercise. If the faulty programs aren’t corrected, a chronic problem is likely.