Four Ways to Correct Muscle Imbalances
Build a symmetrical physique while preventing injury.
Muscle imbalances occur when one set of muscles, for example, the pectorals, are of unequal strength or size compared to an opposing group of muscles, for example, the lats. These differences in muscle function can derail your hard work in the gym and create serious injuries. When one muscle is weak and the other is overactive, it pulls your body into bad posture—like rounded shoulders or an excessively arched lower back—which also limits mobility at your joints and makes certain muscles stiff.
Typically, muscle imbalances occur around areas of your body that are supposed to be mobile—hips, shoulders, thoracic spine—but they can happen almost anywhere. What does it look like when you have a muscle imbalance and how do you know if you have them? Read on for the four most common muscle imbalances, a quick test to see where you’re at, and exactly how to fix them.
Look at a shirtless picture of yourself in a side pose—if you can see any part of your upper-back, you have rounded shoulders. The problem is we spend too much time on the computer and isolating our chest at the gym that our pecs get tight and pull our shoulders forward.
Start strengthening your back muscles and stretching your chest. Do only one chest exercise per week for a month while focusing on the following exercises.
Chest Supported Dumbbell Row
Set an adjustable bench to a short incline and lie face down with a dumbbell in each hand. Start the movement by pulling your shoulder blades together and row. Don’t let your elbows pull past your ribcage.
Wide-Grip Inverted Row
By gripping it wider, your arms will do less work while your neglected mid-back muscles will do more. Set a barbell on a power rack or Smith Machine and, from underneath, pull yourself up and touch your chest to the bar. Pin your shoulder blades together and keep your body straight like a plank.
Doorway Pec Stretch
Stand at a doorway with your hands above your head, make a 90-degree angle with your elbows, and keep your forearms on the doorjam. Lean forward and stretch your pec muscles.
SYMPTOM: SWAY BACK
Get into an all fours position with your knees directly under your hips and your hands directly under your shoulders. Now, push your mid-back as low as you can to make an arch like a cat. This is a kneeling cobra yoga pose. Then, reach your back to the sky making it look like a camel’s hump.
Segmental T/S Extension
Lie a foam roller going across your mid-back. Place your hands behind your head, keep your butt on the ground, and pull your body backward on the foam roller while maintaining a neutral neck.
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