Wow!… The positive feedback from my – TRUTH About Muscle Imbalances Part 1 – is still pouring in! . It seems the simple, no non-sense approach to understanding muscle imbalances provided in Part 1, was just what the doctor ordered for many coaches and trainers interested in this important but often overly complex and sometimes confusing topic. – Well, in this, Part 2, I’ve got more simple, user-friendly concepts that will add clarity to a few other concepts and controversies surrounding muscle imbalances and how to effectively deal with them. Plus, in this post, I will also provide you with some more, reality based concepts as to what muscle imbalances are important to deal with and which ones are not… this may surprise you! – Now, let’s explore more on the TRUTH About Muscle Imbalances. .
The Human Body Is Supposed to be Imbalanced!
. Yes, thats right, I said the human body is supposed to be imbalanced. All of us, from elite athletes to the average Joe and Jane, are imbalanced by nature, by design and most importantly, by necessity! . Don’t believe me? – Than answer these questions; . What hand do you always write with? What leg do you always kick with? What side do you always golf from? What leg do you always lead with when wrestling, boxing or doing MMA? . I can go on here but I think you get my point. The reality is, as long as you have a “dominant side”, you are always going to have muscle imbalances!
If you are a right handed person carrying a heavy bag a groceries. You are always going to hold the groceries in your left hand to free up your right hand in order to perform all fine motor skill type activities such as using your keys to open your car door. . A right hander, just about everyday, has to carry something heavy from a small child, to a brief case to a gym bag to walking the dog with your left hand while keeping the right hand free to do fine motor tasks like writing, opening locked doors, dialing phone numbers and sending text messages. . With this in mind, it’s easy to see how we (right handers) commonly develop a strong dumb side (left hand) and a smart weak side (right hand). . Of course, it works opposite for left handers! .
Imbalances Go Beyond the Muscles!
. Its interesting to note that it’s not just muscles that have imbalances. In fact, almost everything about your body is imbalanced by nature. . Just read the Book - The Dominance Factor - by Carla Hannaford, and you will soon learn simple ways to discover things like your dominant ear, dominant eye, etc; . Understanding these little concepts can really help you better work with others. For example – a child in school, who is right eye dominant, will have a much easier time learning when he or she is sitting on the left side of the room. . Why?… because this will put the student’s right eye closer to seeing what the teacher is writing on the board. . With this example in mind, you can start to get an idea of how these Dominant side concepts can be applied to enhance the effectiveness of your personal and group S&C training programs. .
Muscle Imbalances ARE Sports Specific!
. Many folks will say that you must have a perfectly balanced body in order to perform optimally in sports and prevent injury. . I would not completely disagree with this statement. But, we have to be specific as to what imbalances in sports are good and what imbalances are not-so-good. Because, the reality is, certain imbalances can actually improve sports performance. . Just think of a right handed boxer. In order for a boxer to succeed, he or she should have a dominant side. Would you want to train a right handed boxer as a southpaw (left hander)? – Absolutely NOT! . The only exception for a boxer to train using both stances should be when its part of technical and tactical training for a specific fight strategy. . Another example of an imbalance that is crucial to successful sports performance is the block style start for sprinters and anyone wishing to improve their combine style sprint starts (w/o blocks). In these cases, you should spend most of the time doing sprints, starting with the same stance dictated by the what works best for you (aka – the athlete’s Dominant side). . Now, don’t get me wrong, its always helpful to train from both stances. But you should spend much more time working from the side you’ll actually be starting the test or race from. .
The BIG Question?
. Now, the big question all this leads us to is – Which imbalances are the ones that hinder performance and possibly cause injury? In other words, which imbalances are bad? . The answer – The ones that… . – interfere and/or prevent normal, fundamental, functional ability – change normal gait and locomotive patterns (walking, running, skipping) – restrict normal joint ranges of motion – cause pain – interfere with optimal rhythm and timing or movements – cause abnormal/ sub-optimal postural deviations . In other words, its okay for a sprinter to have the ability to push off one leg harder than the other leg when sprinting, as long as that same sprinter can do general things like squatting and deadlifting with decent symmetry. . Its also okay if a right-handed boxer hits harder with his right punch, as long as that same boxer can perform upper-body exercises with optimal symmetry, rhythm and timing. . Put simply, a sports specific imbalance is perfectly okay as long as it 1.) only shows up when the athlete performs certain sports specific skills and 2.) DOES NOT negatively change the athletes ability to perform general, fundamental movement patterns or cause pain. .
5 Simple Recommendations for Successfully Training with Muscle Imbalnces!
As trainers and coaches dealing the athletes who we know are going to have imbalances, its our job to;
1.) Understand the difference between an asymmetry and a “dominant side”
2.) Do NOT attempt to “fight” any imbalnces that you know are strictly there as a necessary adaption mechanism, by the body, in order to perform a given sport more effctively and efficiently
3.)With #2 in mind, Do NOT feed into making any current, sports specific imbalances worse within a S&C program
4.)With #3 in mind, devote slightly more training time to improving the non-dominant side during generalS&C training
5.) If an imbalance, sports specific or general, causes pain, limitation or dysfunction, it should become a primary training and rehab goal and be addressed and corrected as soon as possible.
I hope the above info has further helped you understand the TRUTH about Muscle Imbalances and expose you to some lesser considered points on dealing with them. . In part 3 of my Truth ABout Muscle Imbalances, I will provide you the exact training strategies you can utilize to prevent future imbalances and correct existing ones. . In part 3, its all about simple, user-friendly, battle-tested training strategies that all Coaches and Fitness Professionals, regardless or setting or experience level, can immediately apply to improve their programs. .
Trust me, you absolutely do not want to miss Part 3! So, keep checking back and don’t forget to comment below.