Key to Top Performance | Correcting Muscular Imbalances

Posted on July 31, 2011

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(re-posted from my performance training business site, prokineperformance.com)

If a car has one tire that is misaligned, the car can drive with you putting extra pressure on the wheel to keep it straight. But over time, that action will wear down the car more, affecting everything from the frame of the car to gas mileage.

Operating with a muscle, or more likely for most folks – multiple muscles, that are imbalanced is like doing the same thing to your body. Muscles that do not have the proper length-tension relationship create performance problems; including poor movement patterns that affect joint health, poor recovery from workouts because of overused muscles, & lost power & endurance from musculoskeletal weaknesses.

Recently, the training business I co-own, ProKine Performance, held a functional training camp to teach a group of endurance athletes how to overcome their specific musculoskeletal imbalances & increase their overall performance, & the results of the 4 hours they spent with us were clear. While 4 hours does not cure a problem that took weeks, months, or years to develop – the athletes were moving more successfully at the end of their session with us than when they began the day. This is especially clear in the photos we took of each athletes’ overhead squat assessment. We put together the following before/after photo to show the improvements. We asked the athletes to squat however they felt comfortable & then showed them the changes from picture 1 to picture 2 (the span of 4 hours of corrective exercise work done with us).

This is Marie. Look at her before picture on the left. We added lines through her shoulder joint, from her hip to knee joint, & from her malleolus (ankle bone) through the medial portion of her big toe. You can see in the first picture how large the bend in her elbows is – the arms should be fully straightened above the head – by the end of camp, she’d greatly reduced her elbow bend & was able to lift her arms higher. In the first picture, her right leg is turned out at the hip, you can see how her knee leans out to the side on the right leg. In addition, her feet turn out. The legs should be more forward-facing, the toes should also point forward & the knees should be inline with the hips & ankles, not splayed out to the sides. Look at the second picture how much closer she gets to that optimal position. See how much straighter her thigh is- it sits in-line with her hip & ankle. Her feet face much more forward at the end of the day than they did at the beginning.

With what Marie did at ProKine’s Functional Training Camp, she will be able to go running, cycling, or anything else she’d like to do with muscles that will allow her to move more efficiently, without creating abnormal wear-down of the bones, tissues & muscles. She began un-doing overly tight muscles in her upper body, hips & calves. She started to activate muscles in her upper back, glutes & core.

Think of the car analogy again…at the start of camp, Marie (and all the athletes) had imbalances that were increasing wear-down of their bones, tissues & muscles. These imbalances were reducing overall power & endurance output because energy was being wasted by the body trying to compensate for the imbalances – just like if you have to apply extra pressure to the wheel to keep the car straight when it’s out of alignment.

Once we discovered the athletes imbalances, we taught them foundational training techniques they must do on a regular basis to fully overcome the imbalances, and then to maintain the new balanced musculoskeletal system. With such great improvements as what we saw in 4 hours, consider the larger effects of doing these training techniques on a regular basis!

ProKine will be holding more camps in the future, but if you’re interested in improving your performance, reducing injury-risk, increasing longevity in your sport, reducing chronic aches & pains, and intelligently training for optimum performance output, schedule a one-on-one assessment now. In the assessment we’ll uncover your strengths, weaknesses, imbalances & areas for opportunity, then recommend a plan to correct & improve them. The fee is $84. Click HERE to setup your appt.

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Posted in: fitness