Monday, February 23, 2009

Finding Muscular Imbalances

Do you have occasional back problems?

Do you lean forward as you walk?

Is your normal walking stride short?

If you answered yes to any of these, you may have a muscular imbalance.

Muscular imbalances can cause back pain, limping and other discomforts. They are caused by many different factors. The most predominant cause is the way we sit at our desks for long periods of time. When our muscles are in one position for extended periods, they contract in that position, causing tightness and discomfort. Without stretching, these muscles and training opposing muscle groups, these tight muscles stay in a contracted state. This can cause pain and stiffness.

Here are a couple of easy exercises you can do to look for imbalances:

  • Get down on one knee in front of a mirror. Can you put your shoulders directly over your hips, without losing your balance? Now, from this position, bring your arms out to your sides and do a spinal rotation to one side, then the other. When this is done, switch legs and repeat the exercise. See if your hips stay in line, or if one hip drops lower than the other. You also probably will find that one side is more stable than the other. Tight hips cause the lack of balance during the spinal rotation. Weak back muscles may cause a feeling of instability. Be sure to perform hip stretching exercises and back strengthening exercises. This will help the discomfort and make you more stable.
Lets try another one:
  • Stand with one leg in front of you, and the other leg behind at a 90 degree angle. Concentrate on keeping your hips square and facing forward. Bring your arms up and keep them rounded, like hugging a large tree. Take a deep breath, pull your arms in close. Exhale and bend at the waist. Inhale reach up with your arms and do a back bend. Switch sides and repeat the exercise. Chances are before you start the second side, just getting into position you are going to feel a stability difference between the left and right sides. You will probably find more flexibility on your dominant side.

If this is the case, add back flexibility into your workout routine.

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