Movement Imbalances

What Are They?

Movement imbalances occur when there is an unequal distribution of stress and strain on abnormal parts of the body during movement.


Movement imbalances can lead to compensatory movements, pain, and increased risk of injury.

Our treatment techniques can be combined within a treatment plan tailored to the specific needs and goals of each patient.

The goal of treatment is to improve movement patterns, facilitate stability during movement, optimize joint biomechanics, and reduce compensations.


Our therapists use several techniques to manage imbalances, including:
  • Manual therapy: use of manual therapy techniques, such as joint mobilizations, myofascial release, and stretching, to improve joint mobility, reduce pain, and correct muscle imbalances.

  • Exercise therapy and home exercise program: use of corrective exercise and customized programs to improve muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination to decrease compensatory movement patterns and facilitate functional movement.

  • Modalities: use of modalities, such as acupuncture and electrostimulation, to stimulate muscles and nerves and improve muscle function.

  • Education: education regarding proper body mechanics and posture, activity modifications and recommendations.

Examples of movement imbalances

When certain muscle groups are stronger or tighter than others, leading to decreased stability during movement, compensations, and increased stress on certain muscles and joints.

When poor posture causes an unequal distribution of weight and strain on different parts of the body, leading to discomfort or pain when sitting or standing for extended periods of time. This is a result of repetitive stress on certain muscles and joints.

When bones and joints are not properly aligned, typically due to a muscle imbalance around the structure. 

An unequal distribution of weight and stress on different parts of the body during walking or running.

When certain muscle groups are more flexible or tighter than others, leading to compensations and increased stress on particular muscles and joints.


Pain and discomfort can result in the formation of adaptations or compensations to sustain movement. Left untreated, it can lead to the onset of movement imbalances.

After sustaining an injury, the body naturally compensates to protect painful areas.

While temporary compensations are not harmful to the longevity of optimal movement, it is possible that compensations can linger and affect movement in the long-term.

Repetitive movements that are demanding for the body can result in strain to a certain area, resulting in an injury and the onset of movement imbalances.

The body continuously reinforces its current movement patterns. As such, this habitual nature can cause movement imbalances. As we walk and go about daily life, the body is constantly reprogramming a certain style of movement even if it not optimized.

Lack of stability will increase the demand of nearby muscles as part of a compensatory movement pattern.

Risks if left untreated

The relationship between movement imbalances and compensations can be cyclical if the cause is not treated. If pain lingers from an injury and optimal movement is not restored, it can lead to further pain which can lead to further compensations. 

Without proper movement patterns, excessive stress is placed on certain structures in the body, such as specific  muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints. These structures are at risk for a repetitive stress injury. 

When these structures are subjected to repetitive stress, they can become overworked, inflamed, and more susceptible to injury.

It is important to note that suboptimal movement patterns can also decrease stability and lead to traumatic injuries such as ankle sprains.

Certain areas of the body may feel weak and inaccessible, while others may feel tight and excessively strong. This can lead to reduced function because it creates inefficiencies in the way the body moves.