Control freak!

Yeah I was thinking of a suitable title for this post… Basically for any physical activity, especially those involving carrying a load, fast movement, etc you need to have good CONTROL of the joints and muscles which are involved. I will give some examples for the upper and lower limb.

*Upper limb: this involves the thorax, ribs, shoulder blade (scapula), arm bone, forearm, etc. In the video below, Dr Andreo Spina (chiropractor) shows EXCELLENT control of the shoulder.

As he and many others allude to, if there is poor control of motion, or insufficient motion in one of the joints, this could lead to unnecessary muscle tightness or potential strain! For activities such as hanging clothes to dry, this strain is probably not a big a problem as those who lift weights, do lot of smash (racket sports).

Now do you honestly have good control (or sufficient motion)? If not, you need to rethink whether you should do overhead lifts such as:

Overhead squat

Snatch (kettlebell fans usually use one arm at a time)

Tennis and other racket sports (serve, smash, etc)

You get the point… the situation is more complicated as it is not uncommon that one side of the body could be significantly tighter, less mobile, have poor control than the other. Here is an example of ideal symmetry, judging from the photo (incomplete information), it seems like the left and right upper limbs have fairly equal motion:


*Lower limb:

control is needed at the pelvis, hip, knee, feet, etc and it is in fact MUCH more difficult to control when you add fast movement to it (jogging, running, football, dance, etc).

I found this example of someone executing wushu with quite good control of the lower limb.

When he raises his knee above the belly button to kick, the lower back rounds slightly (can be improved); maintains good upper body alignment (no hunching) all the while he is moving and kicking.

As you can see, single leg activity is not easy. Consider the popular yoga ‘Warrior 3’ pose, well executed in the example below… even more difficult to control  when you are tired.

Sports involving running and changing direction (football, etc) is even more difficult to control the lower limb. the martial arts example below shows how difficult it is to control hip, knee, ankle and foot.

Oh yeah, even fun dance type workout (Bodyjam, Zumba, etc) could lead to knee injury if you can’t control lower limb movement, etc.

Take home message:
#1 Simplify if necessary. For gym goers, instead of attempting overhead lifts, modify the movement or use lighter weights, make smaller movements. Racket sports players can try to attempt less overhead smash, etc. It’s not worth the risk of injuring your shoulder.

For lower limb control, try taking smaller steps, reduce speed of running, jumping, changing direction, dancing, etc. It’s not worth the risk of injuring your knee, etc.

#2 Know your limits. Pros have generally been doing certain movements for a long time. Trying to imitate your favourite athlete or instructor is not always a good thing.

#3 If there is significant asymmetry (left versus right) tightness , motion, control, etc consider exercises which require simultaneous use of left and right side (barbell, chinup, pushup, etc). If you play tennis with your right hand, try practising with your left hand.
Take smaller steps, reduce speed of running, jumping, etc.

#4 Go for treatment. As always, seek treatment as soon as possible if you are injured, notice tightness that does not go away, etc.


By admin

Dr Benjamin Loh (Chiropractor) has a passion for learning and practising health and physical rehab related stuff.

2 replies on “Control freak!”

I like the Take Home Message here. I have the following 2 questions :

(1) May I have your permission to share on my FB – this particular blog? I have numerous gym-goer friends who are health-enthusiasts ( I worry they are lacking awareness in their gym workouts & routines 🙁

(2) What is your professional take on Ancient-Old, Chinese Accupuncture – for treatment of knee and back injuries alike? More pertinent, knee injuries.

Much-appreciated your feedback and shared thoughts. I will value them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *