Muscular Imbalances
A balanced solution to an unstable subject
By Mike Hoban

Ok, Let’s start with the easy stuff. What exactly is a muscular imbalance? A muscular imbalance is when two opposing muscle groups do not have comparable strength levels. Uneven strength levels cause a lopsided type of force to occur on the joint, leading to many complications later on, such as poor posture, and joint instability. An example of this, may be when the hamstrings are more powerful then the quadriceps muscle. The uneven pull on the knee can open it up for injury and other conditions, such as chondromalacia (a situation this writer has some familiarity with.). As far as the causes for this issue, there are many culprits and they effect many people, not just weight lifters. One of the contributors, are jobs with a repetitive task, i.e. an electrician who is pulling wires, or an office executive who spends most of his or her day hunched over a computer. The second main co-conspirator in this problem is poor training habits. We have all seen that simian like individual in our gym, who does 48 sets of bench, and no rear delt or back work. His pecs and front delts are so tight, that he is now exhibiting the sloped forehead a knuckle dragging posture reminiscent of the Paleolithic era. This is a clear example of muscular imbalance, as well as past life regression.

What type of problems, can these types of imbalances lead to? As was illustrated before, postural defects and poor joint stability can occur. Issues like the aforementioned are initially cosmetic, however further on in life will become not only painful but debilitating as well. When an individual has not trained his or her antagonistic muscles, the body will do things to compensate, i.e. move body positions or try to utilize other muscle groups not intended for those purposes. These issues will, take away from your strength, possibly lead to various types of trauma that can range from constant nagging injuries all the way on up to full blown muscle tears requiring both surgery and rehab. Not to mention the fact that poor posture, will lead to various degenerative conditions in the body from the constant bone on bone grinding the individual will be experiencing.

What can an individual do to correct a muscular imbalance?

Step 1: Admit there is a problem. If you see that you are beginning to round forward, or normal everyday movements do not feel right, something is probably out of alignment.

Step 2: Consult a chiropractor, massage therapist or Active Release Therapy practitioner. These individuals can help to tell you, exactly what is out of balance, and can begin to help you in there own specialized way.

Step 3: Adjust your training to facilitate healing. Begin by stretching the overtrained muscle (I hate it as much as you, but stretching is a necessary evil). The stretching will lessen the pull the more potent muscle is exerting on the joint.

Step 4: Give the undertrained muscle priority in your workouts. Let’s take for example our bench pressing Neanderthal, who is lacking upper back and rear delt strength. I would move his back day to the beginning of his training week. Then prescribe him a workout that would stress muscles such as the humerus, medial trapezius, and external rotators.

Step 5: Last but definitely not least, pay attention to your posture! After you have been adjusted by your chosen professional, watch how you sit and walk try to stay as straight and upright as possible. No sense undoing what you just spent a bunch of time and money trying to fix.

Well, there you have it, correcting an imbalance is not that difficult, and I think most of you will agree quite beneficial. Athletes, powerlifters, and bodybuilders will benefit by being able to move more weight. Office workers and weekend warriors can benefit from having less back pain, and you can do it all while training and getting a massage. Not a bad deal, eh? Who knows, maybe after following a routine like this one, and a few visits to a massage therapist, even our stone aged friend can become an upstanding member of society.