Muscular Imbalances Increase your Risk for Injury

As a personal trainer, there is great satisfaction in helping people reach their goals, be in the Gym or in the Swimming pool. You will have an added satisfaction of helping the clients prevent or put-off the surgery by strengthening the muscles related to a movement, say the knee for example, by stabilizing it.

Knee pain can often be caused by muscular imbalances. This can cause the patella to go “off track”, being pulled laterally, due to the quadriceps’ lateral muscles being stronger than the medial ones. Strengthening the vastus medialis often pulls the patella back on track where it should be. The result of this is usually decreased pain and improved function. There is no question that the basis of conservative treatment for knee arthritis is a low-impact cardiovascular or weight-training program to build the knee’s surrounding muscle groups. The stronger and bigger the quadriceps and hamstring muscles are, and the more well-coordinated and flexible they are, the less severe the knee pain. The stronger those muscles are, the less likely you will need a knee replacement, and the less likely you will be to sustain a ligament or cartilage injury. The two most important factors are maintenance of ideal body weight and regular performance of a low-impact, cardiovascular exercise regimen.

What Causes Muscular Imbalances?

Some activities that we do repetitively can cause muscle imbalances. Runners, for example, usually have relatively weak hamstrings, because of how their pulling action works during the running gait. Most people have surprisingly weak gluteal muscles and arm and shoulder muscles. This often comes from over-working quads and chest muscles, because we tend to work the muscles we can see in the mirror.

There are many reasons for imbalances. Genetics can play a role. Just like eye color or hair color, there are genetic factors that may actually cause muscular imbalances. Lifestyle can be a factor, where the way we go about performing certain tasks will favor a certain muscle group over another. Another cause could be personal preference in a workout routine. The client of a personal trainer may focus only on what can be seen in the mirror- because the back is not as visible, it does not receive the attention it should.

Muscle imbalances can also occur between each side of the body, particularly in the arms and shoulders, and it does not always equate to dominant side versus non-dominant. In this case we train each arm separately, doing a little extra work on the weaker side, trying to catch it up to the stronger one.

The Core is another common area for muscle imbalances, in particular, between the inner and outer core units. The inner unit is comprised of the core’s deeper, stabilizing muscles, including the transverse abdominis. The superficial, spine-moving muscles, including the rectus abdominis, make up the outer unit. The inner unit is often weaker due to neglect, because common exercises, such as crunches, work the outer unit. The outer unit can then compensate for the inner unit, so it is imperative that you include isometric exercises that target the inner unit, such as the plank. The “holding” isometric exercises focus on this area, because the inner unit supports and stabilizes the spine, essentially holding it erect.

Simply test and compare quad and hamstring strength on weight machines. Hamstrings should be at least 60 percent as strong as the quads. You should also be able to perform biceps curls and overhead presses that are at least 25 percent of your total body weight. So friends always make sure you have well balanced body.

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