Hey Angels and Alphas,
Do you realize that a lot of the time, you’re doing your everyday tasks with only one side of the body?
You might go up your home’s set of steps with the same foot first, or you might be used to carrying your bag on the same shoulder every day while you’re shopping for groceries.
Tooth brushing, writing on a notebook, kicking cupboard doors closed, scrolling on your smartphone – all of these seemingly unimportant actions have the tendency to stack up over time, resulting in a “dominant” side of our bodies.
It’s all completely natural.
This, as you’re probably guessing, sooner or later, translates into imbalances and muscle compensations that result in less-than-perfect fitness performance and, ultimately, a higher risk of injury.
That same dominance-building on one side of the body is naturally happening every time you’re training in the gym, as well. Even if you don’t realize it, one side of your body is potentially doing more work than the opposite, creating massive amounts of muscle tension along the way.
That’s why today, we’re going to explore this topic in a little more detail, shining light on some of the more risky and negative aspects of muscle imbalances (and what we can do to fix them.)
What exactly is a muscle imbalance, and how does it relate to having poor posture all day?
When you have a difference on one side of your body that’s stemming from one side of the body being more dominant than the other, this can undoubtedly affect your posture. The more dominant the side is, the higher the impact on its antagonist.
When you’re working the muscles on one side of the body more than the opposite, this will slowly but surely lead to strains, sprains, chronic pains, and other complicated issues.
Here are some tips on how to start working on your muscle imbalances:
In addition to resolving posture problems (and helping prevent them altogether), addressing your muscle imbalances will also help you improve your strength, flexibility, balance, all while lowering the total risk of injury you’re facing. Sounds like a great deal!
When it comes to actual strategies for building strength equal in both sides of the body (so you can address these imbalances), here’s what the experts recommend:
1. FOCUSING ON DEVELOPING MOBILITY
Some of the time, imbalances are the result of one side of the body not being as flexible as its opposite. In these cases, mobility exercises can deliver amazing (and quick) results when dealing with these muscle imbalances. Full-body mobility exercises will bring an unmatched amount of elasticity to tissues in your body, easing muscle imbalances all throughout your body and letting you build a steady foundation of mobility that makes imbalances harder to develop.
2. EMBRACE UNILATERAL EXERCISES
Unilateral exercises are movements performed with one arm or one leg that usually tend to highlight muscle imbalances. Let’s say you’re used to doing chest presses with a barbell. The unilateral alternative here would be to “seesaw” press with two separate dumbbells, so you’re essentially focusing on one side at a time. Other great alternatives for common exercises include the single-leg squats, single-arm rows, bicep curls, lunges, and more.
3. CONCIOUSLY USE YOUR NON-DOMINANT SIDE MORE
If you’re always starting workouts with your dominant side, this will result in having less energy to push through on the other side. A great rule of thumb is to let your “weaker side” determine what volume you’re chasing, so you can do the same volume on each side of your body. Even if this doesn’t feel enough for your dominant side, what you’re doing here is trying to balance them out, and this will give your weaker side the opportunity to catch up in strength.