When you wake up in the morning hopefully you are one of the few that experiences no aches or pains. Even better if you can make it through an entire workout without any sign of joint or muscle pain/discomfort you are in great shape. Unfortunately, this isn’t true for all of us. Most people will have episodes of recurring pain in a joint or multiple joints over their lifetime. Almost all of these everyday aches and pains can be traced to a muscular imbalance. This occurs when one muscle group becomes stronger than the other i.e. your hamstrings are overpowering your glutes. An article released in the Journal of Sports Medicine in 1992 by Knapik et. al. found that injuries most often occur due to left-right strength and flexibility imbalances, not just tightness in a muscle. Addressing these imbalances and returning your body back to normal needs focus in your workout routine.
Correct Balance Training
All too often this idea of balance training is miss interpreted as being able to stand on some sort of unstable surface such as bosu balls or beams. But this accomplishes nothing when trying to improve and maintain your healthy pain free life. We don’t live on unstable surfaces; we lift, run, and jump for the most part on a consistent surface. The idea of balance training is to correct imbalances in the body, be it left vs. right side or upper to lower. Finding what is weak can be difficult though. There are multiple screenings that a trained fitness professional can use to find and address weakness in your posture and movement. Once they are discovered the return of your body back to balance can begin.
The weaknesses in your body are causing it to have weak points in your system. In most systems we always have problems at our weakest point and taking the time to work on them has huge returns to your overall health. When we go to the gym we do movements in one direction. We lift and or press something in a straight line, but we live in a world that is 3D. Lifting objects on to shelves, carrying, and turning all require coordinated movement in multiple directions at one time. Functional application needs precedence in the gym. Novel lifts like diagonal lifts or chops can mimic some of this in the gym. By doing this we are training the body to work together as a system and not just single muscle groups at one time.
When your muscles are in balance your joints are able to move in a full range of motion. When they are imbalanced injuries can occur and often do. The forces that are applied to the joint when muscles are in a power struggle can lead to injuries like meniscus, labrum, and rotator cuff tears. This is due to the fact that at some point a muscle will pull to hard for the opposing muscle group to resist and the joint or muscle will fail. These common injuries can be avoided if time is taken to address and strengthen the weak points that we all have.
By: Brad Longazel MS CSCS ACSM USAW