“Proximal stability for distal mobility.” You might be wondering what on earth that means. Well, it’s a pretty important concept and one that we are huge proponents of at Symmetry Physical Therapy in Downtown Miami.
This phrase basically means that in order to have proper functioning and mobility in distal structures – like our legs and arms – we must first make sure we’re stable at proximal structures – like our core and more mid-line structures. And this concept all traces back to how we gain function as babies. Think about it – babies have tons of mobility but not a lot of stability, or muscle control. They develop that stability first in the head and trunk, and from there, once they’ve established a stable base, they start to roll over, sit up, and eventually reach with their arms, pull themselves up, stand up, and walk. They can’t accomplish all of this until they’ve created that strong and stable base.
So what does this have to do with us?
When dealing with a musculoskeletal injury or pain, we start examining, treating, and strengthening those mid-line or proximal structures first, before even moving onto the arm or leg. So don’t be surprised if you come in for shoulder pain and we’re focusing on the thoracic spine before ever even getting to the shoulder and arm itself. Or if you’re dealing with knee pain, we’re starting from the lumbar spine, working through to the hips, and eventually getting to the rest of the leg.
Without strength, stability, and mobility at the core, the extremities will work overtime – and this creates a ton of tension in those joints and tissues, which might be why you’re experiencing pain there. Plus, a core that isn’t stable, strong, and mobile doesn’t function the way it’s supposed to, so discomfort and pain can stem from that as well.
At Symmetry, we take the entire body into consideration, making sure to address any and all issue that could possibly be leading to your pain or discomfort. That’s why we are such big proponents of the idea of stabilizing the proximal structures to make sure you can be as mobile – and pain free – as possible distally.