From the Desk of Dr. Len
Is Your Workout Causing Muscle Imbalance
Dr. Len Lopez – Monday, January 27, 2014
The primary cause of aches and pains come from muscle imbalance. Whether the muscle imbalance comes because you over-train one set of muscles over another or your daily lifestyle activities cause it? The last thing you want to do is make it worse.
A smart person would never exercise their biceps without also working their triceps. The bicep and tricep are opposing muscles and every muscle or group of muscles have an opposing muscle that counter-balances each other.
Your hamstrings and quadriceps, abs and low back, etc work as opposing muscles to each other. The point I’m trying to make is you have to exercise both muscles or you run the risk of having one set of muscle(s) more dominate and contracted then their opposing muscle. This can lead to unexplained aches and pains and leaves you vulnerable to injury.
A Common Problem
What happens to often for people who train at home or attend some, not all group classes, is that they may overdo push-ups and Not do an equal amount of pull-ups or pulling exercises to counter balance all the pec exercises you did.
The fact that it’s easier to do some type of push-up exercise makes it easier to over-train your pec muscles, more so than the opposing upper back muscles, specifically the muscles between your shoulder blades that pull your chest back.
I’m talking about your rhomboids and trapezius, the muscles that counter-balance your chest muscles. Too much pec work and not enough back exercises will cause muscle imbalance and lead to aches and pains in your upper back and neck.
FYI…Don’t get fooled into thinking that you carry your stress in your shoulders – it’s more than likely muscle imbalance. lets not forget, people spend hours hunched over a computer, desk, laptop, tablet, car…anything that keeps your shoulders pulled forward, which shortens and tightens your chest muscles.
Any type of pulling or rowing exercise will counter-balance those tight chest muscles. I like a rowing movement or inverted pull-ups more so than regular pull-ups for two simple reasons.
1. Almost everyone can do inverted pull-ups. About 85% of the population can’t do pull ups. As a physician, I’ve learned that compliance is everything and if you make things to difficult – people won’t follow through.
2. A rowing motion or inverted rows also targets your rhomboids and trapezius more so than regular pullups. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of pullups and pull-up bars, but with more people unable to do pull-ups, we need to find a good substitute or alternative to pullups for both the home and fitness class.
To put it all together, take a look at your workout routine or exercise class and make sure your not contributing to muscle imbalance. Don’t forget to include your daily lifestyle activities! If you realize you spend a lot of time with your shoulders pulled forward, it is even more important for you to make sure you work those opposing muscles to help prevent those unexplained aches and pains in your shoulders and upper back.