You might be wondering what it means to be synergistically dominant. Well, I’m about to tell you what it is, based on what I learned from studying about tight and weak muscles this weekend. And then I’m going to show you how these concepts can be seen in interpersonal relationships too, and what these concepts can teach us about those relationships.
Man, I LOVE how the workings of the body can teach us about life!
This weekend, I had the pleasure of studying the flexibility chapter in the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM) textbook for the personal trainer’s certification. The whole chapter is about flexible muscles, inflexible (or tight) muscles and how the concept of the kinetic chain all plays into this. I was particularly interested because I spent seven days hiking in the Smokey Mountains, and I came back with painfully tight muscles in the gluteus maximus region.
Synergistic Dominance: Definition
Synergistic dominance is “the neuromuscular phenomenon that occurs when inappropriate muscles take over the function of a weak or inhibited prime mover” (NASM textbook).
What that means to you and me is that there’s this really cool thing that happens when you have a weak muscle, or a muscle that just can’t move the way it’s supposed to. A different muscle will take over the job of that weak muscle—you know, to help it out. That muscle that does the “helping out”—he’s what we would call synergistically dominant. We’ll call him Mr. S.D. for our purposes here.
The problem is, when this happens, Mr. S.D. may have been trying to help out his weak buddy, but in the end, it creates a problem for him too. Like, now he’s breaking down and he can’t do his own job, let alone anybody else’s job. Sound familiar?
How Synergistic Dominance Plays Out in Our Lives
You might be one of those people who feels like you have to “take up the slack” for your office buddy or co-worker. Maybe this person is a good friend. That’s cool. You can help him out in hectic times. Or, maybe this person is one of those people who is always getting behind or who is just plain lazy. Either one of these situations can cause you problems. The first situation is ok, for a time. But if that friend keeps getting behind or keeps letting you handle their work, you should step back for a moment and think about how it’s affecting you and what you can do about it.
The second situation can be worse. Especially if it’s a person you have a hard time liking. Wanna talk about tight muscles? You are going to be experiencing some “tightness” in your neck over this guy (you know, pain in the neck–haha!). But it can become something worse than just a pain in the neck if you don’t do something about it!
Every organ and part in our body was made with a purpose. I’m sure you have experienced some of this synergistic dominance in your own body–whether or not you termed it that. You might have suffered from back pain, leg pain, shoulder pain, or any other kind of pain because some other part just wasn’t doing it’s job. Think about that. For me, I’ve been walking around in a weird and BAD posture because I had something wrong with my hamstring, and my glute muscles had to take up the slack of the hamstring muscle. This glute problem turned into a back problem and before I knew it, I was bent over! Couldn’t even do my regular workouts!
That’s not good. Not good at all.
Some Things To Think About
I have found that the laws in our bodies often work the same ways in our lives. And if this is true, then if you are “taking up the slack” of someone in your life, pretty soon it’s going to show up in a negative way in your own life. And over time, you won’t be able to do your own “job” or responsibilities. You’ll be hurting in a bad way.
Take a moment to think about your own life. How are you being synergistically dominant for someone else? Is there someone in your office, or in your family who won’t do the thing they should be doing? I’m not talking about those cases where you should help your co-person. There are times when people just genuinely need help. In those cases, we should totally pitch in. But I’m talking about those people who are taking advantage of you, or who just haven’t figured out how to handle their priorities. Maybe the kind of help they really need is assistance with understanding their priorities.
Now think about your body. Is there any part of you that is weak? If you start to feel a weakness, that’s when you need to jump on the ball and fix it–before another muscle (or organ) comes around to try and help out that weakness. If I had done what I needed to do for my hamstring (instead of ignoring it), I probably wouldn’t be having the pain I’m having right now. Learn from my lesson.
But there’s another area this concept works out in: finances. If you are pulling money from one area to pay for another, where’s the weakness? Can you find the weakness in your own spending habits? In your need to endlessly invest in material possessions (chuck chuck, I’m preaching to myself here, people!–but I’m working on it!).
Or, is there any other area of your life where you can see this concept at work? Take a moment to think about it for a while. And then figure out what you can do to correct this “imbalance” of resources (resources here being anything from energy, strength, money, time, etc.).