Muscle Balance Made Simple
This post is provided by Andrea Mercier, DPT…thanks Dr. Andrea!
Are there REALLY some simple exercises that you could perform that would improve your muscle balance to make you faster, have less pain, increase your flexibility, or make you more competitive?
Yes!! There is an endless amount of information on muscle strengthening or forms of stretching or gait mechanics available. Yet, what are some exercises I could generalize to you, an elite triathlete, or to a century rider, or marathon runner that might be relevant? As an orthopedic physical therapist, there are clear muscle imbalance trends that I see over and over. When these are addressed, changes in pain, strength and flexibility can occur.
Strengthen your hip extensors/abductors.
The gluteus maximus and medius are muscles that are commonly weak in comparison to an overactive quadriceps femoris or hamstring muscle. Decreased strength of these muscles can result in misalignment of the knee and cause a negative effect all the way down to the foot. Strengthening exercises are required to improve strength and re-educate these muscles (i.e. clamshells).
Stretch your Iliotibial Band.
The ITB is a thick band of connective tissue that connects the pelvis to the shin bone. Tightness of the ITB can negatively affect pelvic alignment or lower extremity rotation. It acts to stabilize the knee with weight-bearing activities. When the ITB tightens, each repetitive movement that comes with walking/running/ swimming may cause pain and inflammation. Use a foam roller to provide a deep tissue release or stretch to the ITB.
Perform Rotator Cuff stabilization.
There are 4 muscles that act to stabilize the head of your humerus in the glenoid space. If there is an overactive deltoid or pectoralis muscle in comparison to a weak rotator cuff, a decreased joint space in your shoulder results. Improving strength of your rotator cuff will provide added space in the shoulder joint and improve strength into internal and external rotation of the shoulder. This will improve force and efficiency with your swimming stroke.
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Physiotherapy Associates Cheyenne Mountain
1330 Quail Lake Loop
Colorado Springs, CO 80906