ATHLETE50 Blog #2 Muscle Imbalance.
If you are a switch hitter (can bat from both left and right sides) in baseball or softball, then you can skip this article!
The rest of us play our sports primarily with our dominant side: We always hold the racquet with the same hand, we always swing the golf club from the same side, we always hit the softball from the same side of the plate, we mostly kick the soccer ball with the same foot and we mostly shoot the basketball with the same hand. This means the same muscles are used in the same way over and over and the same joints are stressed in the same way over and over.
What does this mean to the body?
The resulting repetitive and unilateral stresses on the musculature and joints means that the used muscles get stronger and usually bigger. It also means that some joints end up taking most of the stresses in the same planes of motion. Once dominant, over developed muscles start pulling on the skeletal system in an unbalanced, unsymmetrical manner fatigue, pain and injury are more likely to occur. And the joints are more likely to wear unevenly and painfully!
Bad news/Good news:
The bad news is that we are never going to be able to train the non dominant side enough to get it in balance with the dominant. The good news is that by following some smart exercise guidelines you can reduce the level of imbalance and therefore reduce the level of fatigue, reduce the level of pain and hopefully reduce the severity of injury.
1) DON’T DO BARBELL SQUATS—do instead weighted lunges and step ups, preferably with rotation. This insures that both sides of the body are working evenly.
2) Try TRX System training—because of the inherent bilateral stability needed to perform most exercises, both sides of the body are involved in all exercises. Try the step back lunge, the one legged squat, the rotational row and the pushup!
3) DON’T DO BARBELL BENCH PRESS—do instead unilateral dumbbell bench presses. Stability and balance.
4) Try the dumbbell clean and jerk with rotation—instead of barbell clean and jerk or the deadlift.
5) DON’T DO BARBELL SHOULDER PRESS—do instead unilateral dumbbell presses.
6) Try performing your exercises using the BOSU or stability ball. This engages more stability muscles on both sides of the body.
7) Work your obliques by doing rotational abdominal work to BOTH sides. Ball slams with rotation and balance plank are great for it.
Click here to see a video demonstration of the exercises mentioned above