Stabilizing the Posterior Oblique Movement Chain
By Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA
Human beings were designed to move! We evolved into a bipedal position of locomotion using cross-body "X" patterns for optimal efficiency in stability and mobility. Cross-body patterning harnesses the elastic power of muscles and soft-tissue fascia for efficient body-movement flow.
Every motion demands that we create force and control force. How well you can control force will determine durability, technical proficiency and overall resistance to injury. The posterior oblique sling (POS) is a movement subsystem of the body comprised of the gluteus maximus, thoracolumbar fascia and contralateral latissimus dorsi muscle, connecting the opposite hip and shoulder for locomotion. Without it you don't move.
Safe to say it's an important pattern to learn and optimize. Dysfunction in this system puts the brakes on stability and mobility in the recovery continuum. How do you know if the POS is dysfunctional and how can you restore function? That's what you are about to discover.
Functional Force Management and the Dysfunctional POS
Joanne Elphinston states that there are four key elements to functional force management:
The POS is the "linchpin" for effective force control. Think of the POS as a full-body slingshot with elastic bands. How far back you can pull the bands (arms and legs) and how stable the slingshot base (core) is determines how far what you are shooting (your body) travels and at what speed. Without proximal stability, you cannot have optimal distal mobility. This lack of central zone core stability may cause an increase in joint compression as a compensation mechanism for stability.
The nervous system feeds forward a protective pattern of decreased mobility for increased stability. Not the desired way to accomplish stabilization. The most common dysfunction of this system is neural sequencing inhibition of the gluteus maximus (glute amnesia) and inhibition of the latissimus dorsi, with facilitation (upregulation) of the thoracolumbar fascia.
In essence, you have only one part of the subsystem working effectively – the thoracolumbar fascia. The glutes and lats are very often slow to activate when needed for optimal function because of their inhibition; therefore, the TLF gets overworked and tired. Force closure of the pelvis is intimately associated with coordinated function of the posterior oblique and anterior oblique slings of the body.
The anterior oblique movement chain consists of the contralateral hip adductors, abdominal oblique complex, rectus abdominis and the transversus abdominis. Think of them as being in a "yin and yang" balanced relationship for central zone core stabilization. Dysfunction in one leads to compensatory imbalance in the other, and a Domino effect of movement impairment syndromes begin. As a result, a few things may now occur:
Common signs of a dysfunction in this system include:
How to Reset and Engage the System
Possible Exercise Options
Cross-body pulling and stabilization is an essential component to human movement. No matter where your patient is on the rehabilitation timeline, they can benefit from POS program integration. When patients move better, they feel better. Enhanced timing and coordination will be evident in all basic pattern movements, from walking to pushing/pulling, stepping, lunging and rotating.
Take the brakes off mobility and allow the natural forces of stabilization to work. You may find your chiropractic adjustments are quicker to lock in and maintain mobility patterns. Give the body a stable base of support and mobility will thrive.
Click here for more information about Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA.