A huge overlooked factor when most people train is the balance between muscle groups and postural imbalances. We’ve all seen the broad shouldered male with the smaller sized legs, but this is not what I’m talking about. Postural imbalances can occur from the toes and feet, all the way up to the neck and shoulders. They can either be extremely obvious or underlying and have a huge importance on you quality of life.
Let’s take a look at the typical office worker, who spends a majority of their day at a computer. As a trainer, the main weaknesses I see from these clients are tight hip flexors, weak gluteals, and rounded shoulders. Depending on the severity, these weakness, if not corrected can result in much more. Most people have adapted over time to this new body position that they are required to stay in for 6 hours a day, and don’t realise how much it has affected their body until they go to perform a different functional movement or perhaps go for a run. This is then when the injury occurs. The most common being lower back, knees, and shoulders.
A tight hip flexor has almost a domino effect on the body. If the psoas (main hip flexor muscle) becomes to tight, it can lead to a strong anterior tilt of the pelvis, creating an increased pull on the hamstrings which increase the overall tightness of this muscle group and region. This prolonged ‘tilt’ means that our weight is not evenly distributed causing pressure on the vertebral discs and creating the common lumbar/back pain.
Transfer this office worker to the gym now. Imagine trying to perform a loaded resistance exercise, whilst your body alignment and mass is imbalanced. The more weight you add on and the more you train, the more predominant the imbalance will become and, more than likely, result in a serious injury.
Your body is all connected by fascia and one small imbalance, overtime, may cause long term injuries. Overtraining or overusing a muscle group is the reason for 65% of injuries (both athletes and non athletes).
This is why it is important to structure your training program around your lifestyle and current posture, AS WELL as your personal fitness goals.
- Understanding your lifestyle patterns (are you a runner, walker, office/desk worker, dancer, athlete)
- Identifying your strengths and weaknesses through mobility
- Strengthen what is weak
- Stretch what is tight
- Be sure to balance out muscle groups, and push/pull movements
If you are unsure, ask a professional in your gym to screen your movement patterns. If you are already suffering pain during certain movements, make sure to see a health care professional to address the underlying issue.