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Muscle Imbalances: How to Move Better

As certified personal trainers there are certain things your coaches get good at looking at. While your squatting we’re looking at your feet, your knees, hips, back, everything. We’re looking for not just good form, but muscle imbalances. Think of your knee as a simple lever, and the muscles around your knee as rubber bands. You’ve got bands pulling your knee forwards and bands pulling your knee backwards. If those rubber bands are all the same size and tightness, your knee will stay straight, but if one side has shorter bands than the other, your knee will bend. This is true for every joint and muscle in your body. If every muscle is the same size and tightness as it’s opposing muscle then your joints are free to act and move how they were meant to. BUT, if one side is tighter than the other your joint will be pulled to that side and NOT free to move as it should be.

That’s a really easy explanation of muscle imbalances, but hopefully it drives home the point. They’re not good. Unfortunately, everybody has some. The good news, they can be fixed! Or at least improved. If we look at your knee again, there’s a group of muscles pulling too hard one way, and a different group of muscles not pulling enough the other way. All we have to do is get the muscles that aren’t pulling enough to pull more, and the muscles that are pulling too much, we just need to relax. Through a series of isolating stretches and strengthening exercises we can do just that, easy peasy.

This is where you say, “why don’t we just do those exercises during camps?” Well, your imbalances might not be the same as your buddies, and the exercises and stretches that might help you might make your buddies imbalances even worse. Corrective exercises, they’re called, are a fairly personal thing, and it comes down to you and your coach deciding what is best for you.

Which brings us to the OVERHEAD SQUAT. There’s a series of movement assessments that as personal trainers we would have our clients perform to diagnose any muscle imbalances. The first one is the overhead squat. Hands overhead and you squat. It’s designed to load your joints and pull your muscles in an awkward way to accentuate any muscle imbalances you have.

Unfortunately the gyms are still closed and in-person personal training isn’t an option currently. Virtual personal training is an excellent option for somebody looking for a personalized routine that has these corrective exercises incorporated in them (as well as accountability that’ll make you want to block our number). If virtual personal training is something you want more information about feel free to contact us in any way that’s convenient to you. If that’s not an option for you, you're in luck! We’re putting together a video and blog series that’s going to break down the overhead squat movement assessment and put together a corrective exercise program. We’re going to include popular imbalances and solutions to those imbalances. The first step starts today. Record your overhead squat in a front facing view and a side view. Then look at the entire kinetic chain. Your feet, do they turn in or out? Do your heels pick up off the ground? Your knees, do they collapse in? Do they push out? Your back, does it round as you go down, or does it arch excessively? Your chest, do you lean too far forward? Your hands, do they stay overhead or do they fall forward? And your head, do you stay looking forward or does it hang down?

Take a look at your videos and take notes. We’ll be discussing each problem you might see as the weeks go on. So stay tuned!

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