In most people muscle imbalances are the main cause of pain, tightness and injury. The issue is often caused by muscles being weaker than others. A definition of a muscle imbalance from muscleimbalancesyndroms.com states that “opposing muscles provide different directions of tension due to tightness and/or weakness “. An example would be when you pick your leg up your hamstrings will limit how high your leg goes because of tightness. The tightness is caused by weakness in the opposing muscle (quads, hip flexors) therefore making picking up the leg even more difficult. Much of the research you will find online will point you to posture, repetitive movements and poor technique which are all very true. In this post I am going to reveal a few reasons that are simple yet overlooked and correctable.
What causes imbalances
- Diet, stress, sleep, hydration is a few of the personal reasons we developed muscle imbalances. Diet can cause inflammation thus decreasing the signals that the muscle needs to contract. Stress leads to poor eating habits, higher alcohol consumption and consistent muscle tension. Sleep is when the body repairs, if you’re not going through the levels of sleep your body is not recovering all the way especially if the person is active.
- Neurological influence. Signals are being sent all over our body. Muscles need a signal in order to contract. Muscles losing their ability to contract efficiently creates imbalances and muscle fatigue. The way our body works, we can get too much signal or not enough. Our muscle is tight because only one of the muscle groups are receiving the signal and sometimes that signal is constant.The opposing muscle received sparks like a loose light bulb creating weakness. When we go about our day or have a good workout, we only reinforce this imbalance until we start to hurt. Only strong get stronger and the weak get weaker. If you never address the muscle imbalance that is caused by a lack of communication in your muscular system only the muscles that can contract will get stronger, the ones that can’t stay where they are getting weaker.
How to Improve your imbalances
If you are experiencing any level of muscle pain, there is a good chance you have a muscle imbalance and it has reached Its peak. In severe cases such as this I would recommend you see a medical massage therapist or a muscle activation technique specialist. Massage can help improve circulation and ease the muscles that stay tight. M.A.T can identify the muscle imbalances and improve the communication in the weak muscles. Once you have the cause and involved muscles identified you can move to the exercise portion. There are no exercises better than unilateral exercises for muscle imbalances. Unilateral exercises eliminate compensation of the stronger muscles and allows you to pick specific exercises to isolate the weaker ones. There are also PNF exercises that will help as well to improve movement mechanics and signal.