My 8 year old son was struggling to tie his shoes, despite hours of patient practice and YouTube instructional videos. Granted, all kids struggle with that fine motor task; however, I could tell he was behind compared with his peers. One day it struck me- my left handed son was being taught by his right handed mother! I raced home that night to try a reverse “leftie” strategy and… boom! He got it instantly!
That parenting experience also made me think about the right handed world we ALL live in. Left handed people still drive vehicles and reach with their right hand to adjust the radio or grab a cup from the center console. Reaching for the phone, refrigerator, or doorknob is often designed to be done with the right hand as well. Living in a right handed world develops muscle imbalances within all humans, despite handedness, and these dominant muscle patterns can possibly lead to musculoskeletal injury.
Left can also be oh so right! Consider that humans prefer to “move” to the left, or counter-clockwise. Its baseball playoff season right now, which way do the batters run the bases to score? NASCAR is currently in the chase for the cup- which way are the drivers going around the track? We just finished watching the summer Olympic games- shot put and discus is launched from an athlete rotating which direction? Even something as simple as riding a bicycle or motorcycle- we notice that it’s a little more hairy making a right turn. There are lots of daily examples of left directionality.
The human body has an asymmetrical design that promotes better counter-clockwise performance. We have a liver on the right side that weighs approximately three to four pounds, with a spleen on the opposite side weighing less than a pound. We have three lobes of lung on the right and only two on the left. The heart lies more to the left, and the diaphragm has more attachments to the spine on the right. This organ asymmetry coupled with visual/cerebral cortex asymmetry and vestibular imbalances, etc. contribute to the formation of dominant muscular patterns that without opposition can again, lead to injury.
The science of Postural Restoration™ recognizes and restores human muscle imbalances and faulty movement patterns in order to allow for a more symmetrical state of well-being. As a Postural Restoration Certified physical therapist, I evaluate patients through an asymmetrical lens, and apply treatment principles that improve symmetry through exercises, movement patterns, and functional positions that can be done during everyday activities.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all asymmetrical beings living in a right handed, counter-clockwise world. Our occupational habits, recreational activities, and environmental factors all play a role in the development of faulty movement patterns that can lead to injury, and physical therapists can balance out these patterns. Next time you go for that walk around your neighborhood or on your trick-or-treating route, perhaps you should lead off by taking a right. It’s not a wrong direction!