Muscles in Debt: What You Need to Know


Borrowing from Peter to Pay Paul


You have probably heard the expression “borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.” Imagine that Tim, Peter, Paul and their friends each symbolize an individual muscle. Tim owes Paul $20 and Joe $5 but does not have any money. Tim borrows money from Peter to pay Paul. Now he owes Peter money and Joe money. Seth just got paid and has $100. Tim asks Seth for money to pay Joe and Peter. Tim has created financial debt not just for himself but for a bunch of his friends.


Consequences of muscle debt

Now imagine, for example, that Tim is the gluteus maximus, the large muscle on your backside. It is important for walking, sitting, standing, squatting, etc. If your brain cannot connect well with your gluteus maximus, it may overwork a neighbor muscle. For example, it could be your hamstrings “Peter”, hip rotators “Joe”, or back extensors “Seth”. The possibilities for compensation patterns are almost endless. Over time, this may lead to buttock pain, back pain, leg pain, or hip pain. This compensation pattern can continue and affect your entire body. I often see people compensating for a weak core with their neck, jaw, face, diaphragm, toes, arms or legs. Now those muscles are having a hard time, and other muscles jump in to help them. The vicious spiral continues.

For example, I had several clients in the past with scars on their face. One client had a scar from childhood that affected her squat form. She externally rotated one hip initially. After we worked on her face scar, she was able to squat with both legs in proper alignment and feel her glute firing. Another client had a jaw scar that was affecting his back muscles. This scar contributed to painful shoulder motion.


Scars and skin trauma can start the compensation spiral because the brain gives them priority. The brain keeps a scorecard over your entire life of trauma. It holds onto trauma through scars. Because of this, neighbor muscles may disengage or work in a different way. This is a self-protection strategy.

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