Each and every one of us will have muscular imbalances somewhere in our bodies which can be caused from things such as having a dominant side and having previous injuries. If muscular imbalances are not treated, over time this can lead to poor movement mechanics, an elevated risk of injury and chronic and/or acute muscular pains. Therefore it’s super important to try and minimise these imbalances. This can be achieved by incorporating single arm or single leg variations so that the body cannot so easily favour one side. But first, to understand what exercises you might need to include within your training, let’s try and find out a little more about how and why you might have developed some muscular imbalances.
How can being right handed cause me to have muscular imbalances?
Say for example you’re right handed, every time you lift a glass/mug or climb some stairs, you will pretty much always lead with your right side. Although these movements may only seem minor, when you think about all of these small movements that you do every day, they soon add up and build up your strength on just your right side. And if you play sports such as tennis, when you’re right handed, every time you hit the ball you use your right arm whereas the left arm only really works when you perform a backhand which therefore causes more strength to build on your right arm. Additionally, a very common cause of muscular imbalances is when you always put your bag on the same shoulder. Because the same side of muscles are always doing the work to hold your body upright when carrying a bag, it can cause one side of the body to build stronger than the other. So movements and habitual activities like these can increase the muscular imbalances within your body without the correct training to accompany your lifestyle.
How can having a previous injury cause me to have muscular imbalances?
Say for example you have previously injured your right shoulder or knee, your body will begin to learn to favour the left side as so to protect your injured right side. Over time this muscular compensation can cause your injured side to become weaker than before your injury. So it’s all about being aware of where your muscular imbalances might be to work on trying to even out the muscles on both sides of the body.
So how can I work towards correcting these muscular imbalances?
No matter how hard we try, we will always have small muscular imbalances within the body, but we can work towards limiting these imbalances to preserve our movement mechanics and performance, and limit our risk of injury. So say for example when you perform a squat, you lean more to your right side (have you ever used a wii fit board? It can tell you how much weight you put into each side of the body by measuring the forces transferred through the feet), to help correct this, you want to try and work each side independently, this could include single leg sit to stands, split squats, pulsing lunges and many more. By working each side independently, you’re making sure both sides of the body are working equally and therefore building your strength evenly across both sides of the body. The same applies for cable bicep curls, try to separate the left and right side of the body and perform single arm variations to evenly built the strength across each arm. This concept applies for every single muscle group such as the core, the pecs, the glutes, the quads. So remember to include single side variations to try and even out any muscular imbalances you may have. You can even try swapping the side your bag sits on each time, try lifting your morning cup of coffee with your left hand etc. The more you can use both sides of your body evenly, the better!