| Article written on September 29th, 2015 at 10:00am | Follow Garrett on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram |
There are significant differences between weakness and inhibition.
Inhibition refers to the the lack of firing from a neurological standpoint, while weakness is lack of strength in a muscle/movement.
Often, inhibited muscles test weak. But, we cannot solely strengthen an inhibited muscle and expect it to fire correctly. This would be applying a strengthening intervention in the wrong situation.
A common place for inhibition is within the hip. As a multi-directional, ball and socket joint, the hip has a large range of motion that needs to be controlled. The hip requires strength and stability to function optimally. This is especially true in the muscles of the gluteus maximus/medius/minimus.
In Cyriax’s classification of musculoskeletal injuries, he specifies finding weak and painless, resisted range of motion to be a complete rupture of contractile tissue or a neurological disorder. After minor or gross lesion to a specific muscle, you would find either a strong and painful response, or weak and painful. But, in the absence of pain, we must entertain some type of neurological pathology such as inhibition.
Once a muscle tests weak and painless, evaluating movement patterns can provide further insight.
The overhead squat and inline lunge are movements that requires a great degree of control and stability surrounding the hip. During these movement, if the knee collapses inward we know their is faulty firing and neurological inhibition in the hip, when matched with the above mentioned results. There may also be a shift of bodyweight over the support hip to compensate and create more stability.
If we found this outcome within functional movement with strong and non-painful muscle testing, there may be other dysfunctions that we won’t entertain in this article.
The moral of the story: Even If you are pain-free you may not be functioning optimally.
Don’t use pain as the only guideline for proper function. The body will find a way to complete tasks the easiest way possible. Oftentimes this means over-reliance on some muscles, while “turning off” others.
In the case of inhibition, most people don’t know it’s there until tested with specific exercises or by a professional. If you are interested in taking the brakes off your movement potential, seek out a movement professional to be evaluated.
By: Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART