An insight into a common issue and how we adresss and correct through our physio clinic (Activate Physiotherapy) at Spartan Performance.

Within human movement, various patterns of compensation and the associated movement dysfunction limit an individual’s capability in performance and also dramatically increases the risk of, if not guarantees, a future injury.

Conversely, trainers, coaches, and athletes that can identify common patterns of compensation in human movement have an opportunity to correct the associative movement dysfunctions, restore biomechanical integrity, improve movement quality, and limit the risk of injury as well as contribute positively to both training and performance.

Patterns of compensation develop in human movement for many reasons. From injuries to daily life activities, the human body is constantly being shaped and re-modeled through ‘mechanotransduction,’ which is the process in which biomechanical forces in combination with biochemical reactions and energy flows literally ‘deform’ (or change the form of) each and every cell.

What’s most alarming about this relationship between movement and the body is that movement can re-shape the body for the worst, and will at times lessen the body’s capability to function as it could or as it is designed to function. Thus, the scope of human movement can have a ‘negative’ influence on the evolution of the human body and in turn have a negative effect on one’s overall sports performance and progress.

Having the ability to recognize patterns of compensation and movement dysfunction provides the individual with the opportunity to correct and neutralize the risks and damage associated with patterns, as well as allows the individual to develop more efficiency and integrity in regard to biomechanical functions and movement quality.

Unfortunately, if uncorrected or undetected, the patterns of compensation and associated movement dysfunctions can and will disrupt human movement, increasing the risk of injury and damage to the body, even if the individual is unaware of these risks.

Learning to recognize some of the common patterns of compensation is a reliable tool an individual should use in the effort to minimize risk of injury and damage associated with movement dysfunctions.

An effective goal for an individual, especially for trainers, coaches and athletes, is to identify common patterns of compensation in human movement to address and correct the associated movement dysfunctions, limit the risk of injury, and improve movement quality.


One of the most difficult patterns of compensation to assess, ‘uneven shoulders’ is a complicated strength or muscle imbalance occurring in many people without their knowledge. This pattern of compensation usually develops in an individual due to a previous injury and/or lifestyle factors, including simple habits such as carrying a bag on only one shoulder.

Uneven shoulders are easily observed in a static posture assessment, as seen in the photos. However, the causes or the nature of the Strength/Muscle Imbalance involved in this compensation pattern is not as easily noticeable due to the complex nature of the movement of the Hips, Torso/Core, and Shoulders. In some individuals, the Upper Trapezius (Neck/Shoulder) Muscle may be tight and overactive, while in others it may be the Latissimus Dorsi (Back) or Pectoralis (Chest) or even the Quadratus Lumborum (Low Back) Muscles that are tight and overactive. It may aslo be a comboination of all of the above.

In the first back photo we can see the pelvis is tilted to the right due to a short right leg. This has resulted in a compensatory left bend of the spine, left tilt of the shoulder girdle and right shift of the rib cage relative to the pelvis.


In order to establish fascial tensegrity, which simply implies evenness of tone, the left lateral side was released (Internal/External Oblique’s, Latissimus Dorsi and Quadratus Lumborum) followed by releasing the right Upper Trapezius & Gluteal complex which significantly lowered the elevated shoulder and reestablished a more leveled hip alignment as can be seen in the final back picture.

Following the treatment specific activation exercises were incorporated to help maintain the new postural position (shown below), but in order to make these changes permanent regular treatment sessions are required with continual persistent execution of activation and integration movements.

If you suffer from movement dysfunctions or compensations patterns book in with Activate Physio @ Spartan Performance to begin your journey on reestablish fascial tensegrity and thus overall sporting performance.

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