Working a muscle group harder than its opposing muscle group is a common mistake when it comes to exercise and can result in problems including back pain, shin splints, rotator cuff strains, poor posture, and reduced sports performance.
When we work one muscle harder than its opposing muscle, joints become pulled out of their normal resting position. The stronger muscle becomes short and tight and the weaker muscle become elongated and weak.
People who frequently perform single-handed movements like tennis players and baseball pitchers are at a greater risk of developing imbalances between the muscles on each side of their body. People who perform repetitive, single-plane movements for long periods of time such as runners and cyclists are susceptible to imbalances between the muscles at the front and backs of their legs, and the ones at the sides.
A common example of an imbalance injury occurs when gym-goers work hard on their pectoral and upper trapezius muscles by doing bench presses and shoulder shrugs, without doing an equal amount of work on their upper back. The result is that the shoulders are pulled up and forward into a hunched position by the tighter muscles at the chest and top of the shoulders. This can result in impingement of nerves and tendons at the shoulder and lead to rotator cuff tendinitis and tears. This position also pulls the head forward and can result in neck pain and headaches.
So when hitting the weight-room this summer, make sure to plan your workout and distribute your efforts evenly across different muscle groups. We have to make sure we keep our muscles in balance with each other, both to prevent injury and to maximize performance.
Please contact Anna Mason-Mackay if you have any questions about muscle imbalances.