So as we learned in previous posts we always have a muscle on two sides of a joint that perform opposing functions. The easiest example to give you is the elbow. We have the bicep and triceps that together flex and extend the elbow. Two muscles that work together to operate a joint are called a Force Couple. The bicep and triceps are force couples. We have force couples all over the place! The force couple surrounding the knee, for example, would be the Quads and the hamstrings! The quads extend the knee and the hamstrings flex the knee! We can look at the Quads and the hamstrings as the triceps and biceps of the leg, respectively!
A poor position, an altered force couple
Muscle imbalances might cause us to perform tasks in a sub-optimal position. How can this happen? Well, our bodies adapt to positions of stress and reinforce these habits. We form improper movement patterns. Exercise is a form of stress. Let’s say we only ever exercised our biceps and never trained our triceps. Eventually, our biceps would become so dominant we might become stuck in a partial state of flexion. Conversely, the triceps would become weak and elongated! If this happens your development will also suffer and the gains will plateau! This is a muscle imbalance in a nutshell and we also call this an altered force couple relationship. This can wreaks havoc on joints. If the muscles lengths are altered we get uneven pulling on the elbow joint and this dysfunction is what can lead to pain, impingement, or pinching of a nerve, decreased mobility, tendinitis, wearing of cartilage and soft tissue, and other problems!
When we exercise we aim to correct these issues with our tools. The exercises we choose and the mobility techniques are all necessary for not only longevity and health but results overall.