How the Kinetic Chain Can Affect Your Health

When you were a kid, did you ever hear this song…?

The ankle bone’s connected to the… leg bone; and The leg bone’s connected to the… knee bone; and The knee bone’s connected to the…” and so on?

Whoever got us hooked on that catchy little tune must have had some knowledge concerning the importance of alignment!

Chiropractors know how every bone, muscle and nerve are related to each other in the human body. In addition to the direct connections, chiropractors take this song even one step further when considering the indirect connections.

How does that make any sense?

Your chiropractor knows about a virtual system of connections in the musculoskeletal system called the kinetic chain. The word kinetic suggests movement.  This chain of connections is related more to the functional relationship between moving parts than it is to their actual physical connections. According to this model, two parts do not need to be in direct contact with each other to be directly related. As a result, you could be experiencing pain or symptoms in your neck and shoulders, when the cause of the problem may be in your hips or knees!

Luckily for you, it is not important for you to know how it works, just that it does work.  Your chiropractor will take care of the rest.

For example, those headaches that you have been experiencing lately may be directly related to misalignment of the bones in your upper neck. This could be causing extra pressure on the suboccipital nerves, which supply the human scalp with sensory innervation.  If this is true, a few quick adjustments in the right place and you will probably be good as new.

However, what if the misalignment in your neck is caused by pelvic misalignment? According to the kinetic chain theory, this is entirely possible. And, unless this misalignment is also corrected, it is likely just a matter of time before the stress of pelvic alignment and the kinetic chain effects leading up to your head and neck will lead to further misalignment, nerve irritation and pain.  

Why is the kinetic chain so important?

In a standing position, the body is a slave to the force of gravity with the musculoskeletal system functioning to keep the body vertical, balanced and mobile. If something happens that directly affects this vertical alignment, the body will quickly make the neces-sary adjustments to re-balance and carry on. If the changes are required only for a relatively short period of time, there are usually no ill-effects.

A good example of this would be the effects from a stubbed toe. The pain may cause you to lift up your foot, hop around, or even limp for a short while. The body compensates for the area of injury, with the healthier parts compen-sating for the weaker or more painful ones. Usually the pain subsides quickly, the body returns to normal, and no long-term effects are felt.

But what happens if the pain is more intense or prolonged?

A more serious injury may cause you to limp for a longer period, with most of your weight supported by only one side of the body. More significant changes must be made in your musculoskeletal system to accommodate for this. If this is required over a long period of time, the pattern of nerve and muscle activation may begin to become
hard-wire. Every part of the body linked kinetically to this compensation  pattern will experience these changes. Since this is unnatural, the alterations of muscle tone and nerve activation can begin to produce abnormal stress and strain, resulting in pain and discomfort that may lead to a chronic problem.

What should you do?  

Trust your chiropractor. Chiropractors are well educated in any bodily function (and dysfunction) related to the kinetic chain.  Before treating you, your chiropractor will assess all areas that may be related to your current symptoms, and will be sure to include these areas in your treatment plan.

If you notice your chiropractor working on an area of your body that is not directly connected to the location of your most recent problem, ask if it is because of the kinetic chain - and watch how impressed your chiropractor will be with your newfound knowledge!