Is muscular imbalance causing your back or neck pain or leading to a potential injury? As an Exercise Physiologist at PLC, one of my roles is to screen patients for muscular imbalances. These imbalances are not limited to athletes and can be due to a number of factors like lack of joint mobility or instability/weakness of a muscle group. This can happen when you overwork one muscle group and under work its opposing muscle group by doing simple things such as lifting a child repetitively or sitting in one position too long at the computer. Here are three of the most common imbalances we see and some simple strategies to begin the restoration process.
- Anterior Pelvic Tilt: This occurs when the front of the pelvis is tilted forward or looks down and can be a combination of tight hip flexors & lats, or a weakening of the deep core stabilizers, such as the transverse abdominis. Since most of sit for a good portion of the day, it is a safe bet that our hip flexors become shortened. A good place to start is by stretching the hip flexors.
- Rounded Shoulders: Ever feel like your shoulders are creeping forward. If so, then a quick posture screen would most likely show that your shoulders are drifting forward. To correct this, we need to strengthen the muscles of the upper back and posterior (back side) of the shoulder. The best exercise for this is performing Prone Y’s on a Physioball.
- Loss of Hip Mobility: Typically this is due to lack of movement. One of my favorite exercises to prescribe for this is Quadruped Hip Circles. This exercise not only strengthens the muscle around the hip joint, but actively takes the joint through a large range of motion to help restore mobility.
Performing these exercises can help restore balance back to the intended area. However, be sure to have your movement and posture screened by a trained professional. This will ensure that what you are feeling is actually occurring and a proper exercise prescription can be developed and safely implemented.
Keith T. Burns, MS, CSCS