The enthusiasm with which a large number of athletes and professional trainers hit the gym every day all across the world is admirable, to say the least. Heck, some of us cannot even get out of our beds at 10! The more the effort, the better the results are. And it is following this principle that keeps motivating a gym freak to go the extra mile. While this does lead to major success as far as the fitness and physique goals are concerned, this hit the gym hard approach is also leading to many fitness issues. Some of these problems are simply underlying issues, which can be invigorated through some faulty exercise. One such problematic issue that gives headaches to athletes all over the world is a muscle imbalance. What we have mentioned is only one of the many causes of muscle imbalance. In this article, we are going to talk about muscle imbalance in detail, as well as share some tips with you regarding fixing strength and muscle imbalances. So, without further ado, let us begin!
Understanding muscle imbalance
It is imperative to understand what muscle imbalance is all about before we jump into its types, causes, and remedies. Yes, we are going to talk about all of that, but in a while. The concept is super easy to understand. When the strength or size of muscles on one side of the body is not the same as the other side, then one has the problem of muscle imbalance. Mildly put, it is one of the most frustrating problems one can face during a gym training session. We will discuss the causes of the muscle imbalance in detail, just a little later, but they are numerous. Even a player who is used to throwing the ball in baseball with his left arm only can develop this issue as well. Well, figuring out the solution without knowing the details of the muscle imbalance type is hardly possible. So, let us jump to that bit now.
Types of muscle imbalance
So, just to put things in perspective, primarily, there are two types of muscle imbalances. These include body muscular imbalance and the joint muscular imbalance. For a better understanding, let us discuss these types separately.
Body muscular imbalance
This is the classic form of muscle imbalance. The condition is characterized by uneven morphology that leads to asymmetry. Typically, in body muscular imbalance, one side of your body is longer/smaller or stronger/weaker as compared to the other side. Of course, we are talking about muscles here, as the name says. This is a common problem with athletes, who aren’t used to switching arms during training or games.
Joint muscular imbalance
This is a much more complicated type of muscle imbalance and leads to restricted joint movement. What you need to understand here is that each muscle surrounding your joint is basically what keeps a joint in a perfect plane for movement. Now, in case these muscles become weak or imbalanced, it is not difficult to imagine the consequences. This can lead to many secondary conditions which can be, mildly put, very painful.
Causes of muscle imbalance
Like we said before, there are several reasons which can lead to muscle imbalance, a few that we have mentioned already. Nevertheless, it would be prudent to have a closer look at some of the other causes of muscular imbalance. These include the following:
1- Unusual posture: This is one of the most common reasons and the one that can be rectified easily, of muscular imbalance. Sleeping or sitting on one particular side is what usually falls under this particular category.
2- Weird training exercises: We call them weird because sometimes they don’t even make sense but you are supposed to do them because you watched that YOUTUBE VIDEO! Man, we have to tell you something, you ought to be more careful about what you incorporate into your exercise schedule.
3- Linked to the previous point is another reason for muscular imbalance, pushing yourself to do an exercise when you aren’t 100 percent fit.
4- Sometimes, not doing anything can also lead to muscular imbalance. You know they meant good when they yelled at you “Damn it, move a muscle”.
5- Sometimes, it is just the way you are. You will find fighting against nature, one of the toughest challenges out there.
Muscle imbalance: consequences
Now then, what can muscle imbalance leads to must be the question buzzing in your mind right now, right? Well, for one, an imbalance of this nature can lead to an unbalanced physique. For perfectionist gym freaks and geeks, this is nothing but a nightmare. Then, as we mentioned earlier, the joint-muscle relation is affected as well. This can lead to a restricted range of motion, hence compromising one’s mobility. The unpleasant pain that stays with you all the time when you are suffering from a muscular imbalance of delicate nature is best not mentioned. If you still haven’t realized the gravity of this issue, let us tell you that muscular imbalance can easily lead to an increased risk of injury. The areas that become most prone to damage include ligaments, tissues, bones, joints, and of course, muscles. Hence, we would implore you to take this matter seriously, and talk to some experts who can sort it out for you.
Relating muscle imbalances and flexibility
If you feel confident enough about countering this issue on your own, we are not going to demoralize you. But in most cases, it is a very bad idea. Tending to muscular issues on your own may give birth to a few more issues that you didn’t have in the first place. Hence, the sane approach is to seek the help of a specialist. In this case, physiotherapists or gym trainers can help you out the best. Also, are you sure that the reason behind your muscular imbalance, and reduced strength as a consequence, isn’t simply the fact that you are not stretching enough? Many athletes suffer from muscular imbalances due to certain rigidity and lack of flexibility in their exercise regimes. Hence, improvising and adding a touch of flexibility to your workout plan might prevent or cure this problem. It is imperative to stretch before and after a workout. If muscles are imbalanced on one particular side, you will do well by paying more attention to that side.
Five strategies to fix strength and muscle imbalances
Enough with the chitter-chatter, let’s talk solution now. We are sure that you have got an idea about the etiology and the consequences attached to this issue. But how can you fix the strength lost as a consequence of muscle imbalance? In the following lines, that is what we are going to talk about. Here are some super easy, yet very effective stratagems of fixing this problem!
All the strategies that we are going to discuss in the upcoming lines are pretty much related to exercise. Ah, but you get us wrong. We aren’t talking about just exercise, we are talking about unilateral exercises. This approach can be truly beneficial and helpful for you, let us explain how. Well, you do realize that if you work out in a manner that focusses on both sides of your body, you aren’t going to be able to get rid of this problem, right? So, what is the solution? The obvious thing to do is to start doing exercises that help you develop or groom one set of muscles i.e. the weaker or the smaller ones. This is one of the simplest yet very effective solutions for foxing strength issues.
Which exercises can you do for this purpose? There is a big catalog of those, we can tell you that. However, the most popular ones are bench presses, dumbbell exercises, and curls focusing on biceps. If you do these exercises properly, under a gym trainer’s supervision, you will still be able to give adequate attention to the dominant side of your body as well.
2- The importance of starting with a weaker side
If you read the previous point a little less light, we implore you to read it once again. The fact that not many of us can use both arms and legs in a 100 percent equal manner complicates stuff. If you train with the dominant side, it is obvious that the set of muscles on that body side is going to be even more well-groomed than ever, which simply kills the point. Folks, whenever you are doing an exercise, you are bound to start with your dominant side. It is natural. No one pauses to think why he or she picked a dumbbell with the left arm instead of the right one, isn’t this the case? But it is one habit that you will need to cut out if you are tired of imbalance that is causing pain in your joints and bones.
3- How much of workout is good?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions, whenever muscle imbalance is under discussion. How much effort should one be putting in so that both sides are equal in size and strength? Most gym trainers believe that the best way of figuring this out is to let the weaker side decide that. It is logical and makes sense. If you begin with the dominant side, you might end up doing exercises that aren’t going to be feasible when the weaker side comes into play. Hence, it is always a good idea to start working out with the weaker side. As for the dominant side, well, muscle sets on that side are already well-toned and showcase enough strength and size. You can rest assured that what your weaker side can manage is going to be managed equally well by your dominant side as well.
4- Overtime as compensation
One major reason why muscular imbalances arise during training is that the concerned person likes to polish and tone one particular side or area of the body more than the others. When done with sense still prevailing in the workout schedule, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, an exaggerated effort on one particular side of the body is going to cause some major balance and unequal strength issues. Now, if you have been guilty of doing this, you have got to make up for this. It is simple, no beating about the bush. If your focus was on lower body and you had more leg days than bicep days, it is time to make up for that. And that is what we exactly mean by overtime. Put in some extra effort for the part that is suffering from imbalance.
5- Flexibility, again!
We have mentioned this already, but a lack of flexibility is one of the major reasons why people suffer from this problem under discussion. Sometimes, it is a lack of focus too, but that is rare. You know, people putting in half-hearted efforts! However, we think that stretching before and after a workout is one of the simplest ways of encountering this issue. There might be some secondary condition that already exists and is causing limited mobility. Quite important that you follow a process of elimination and figure out the real cause for muscular imbalance by crossing out all the improbable factors.
Well, that will be all for now. The topic is a broad one and we wish we could have gone on and one about it, discussing the nitty-gritty of all the elements involved in this debate. However, as it is the norm of the modern world, we have to stop at some point, and we fear we have reached the wrap-up time. However, we hope that this piece of reading will help you fix the strength and muscle imbalance issues that you might be having as we speak. This problem can influence your gym input and output, you must not take it lightly. In any case, if you feel the matter is getting out of your hands, it is always best to seek the help of a rehab expert.