Often times, when fitness professionals hear the words “muscle imbalances” they roll their eyes.
They think, “ya ya”, I do stretching with my client.
There is a good chance that your clients are not getting their maximal results because you are not addressing muscle imbalances, fully.
Let me ask:
“If I could show you a way that your clients could get better results, feel refreshed for their next workout and have a decrease in aches and pains, would you be interested in know what it is?”
If you answered, yes, then the answer is by addressing muscle Imbalances.
Before I got into details, let me explain, muscle imbalances are much more than tight and short muscles. Addressing muscle imbalances involves 10 different techniques and stretching is only one of them. I will go through some of them below.
#1 = Add A Dynamic Warm Up to Your Client’s Program
Having your clients come in and go through a dynamic warm up before bootcamp class or their personal training session will help fend off muscle imbalances and get their bodies ready to go harder in their workout.
Doing the dynamic warm up allows your client to dynamically stretch their muscles, loosen up their joints, activate their stabilizing muscles and prepare themselves mentally for their workout.
Make a ritual out of dynamic warm up. Just like athletes do. Athletes have their pre-game warm up ritual that they do in order to get their bodies ready for the game. Our clients need to do the same. In the dynamic warm up we need to make sure we hit thoracic mobility, activation and breathing (3 more components involved in addressing muscle imbalances). Let me talk about these three muscle imbalances techniques a little more.
With a lot of our clients sitting most of the day, things get stiff in the mid back. This leads to movements being lost and greater stress being put on the shoulder and lower back. In your dynamic warm up, make sure to include some movements that move and open up the thoracic spin. Make sure to hit this area in all the directions that it moves, not just rotation.
Poor activation of our stabilizing muscles are often a result of our sitting lifestyle as well. Being in a static posture takes away from the stabilizing muscle in our shoulder, abdominal area, hips and knees. Doing movements and dynamic exercises that wake up the four stabilizing muscles, gets them ready to stabilize our joints so we can push the body harder in each of our exercises. If you can push harder, do more reps and go longer, your clients will get better and faster results.
Then the third muscle imbalance component in the dynamic warm up you want to think about is breathing. The key thing is working on trying to blow out tension and relax the body. Tension builds up in all of us through out the day. Exercise helps relieve it and then breathing helps relieve the rest.
Now onto a few examples of dynamic exercises you can do.
– High knees
– Heel kicks
– Deep squats
– Single leg squats
– Side Steps
#2 = Give Them the Pain Ball for Homework
Our clients go hard after working out with us. We need to do what we can to get them ready for their next session.
Sending them home to rest on the couch does not do this. You need to give them some homework and the pain ball is great homework.
The pain ball is a tennis ball or other firm ball that they can use to self massage their body in order to relax the muscles they have used, help with inhibiting over active muscles and help with circulation.
It is very much like a massage. The way people have described it is, self massage is what you do between massage visits, very much like brushing your teeth. The self massage helps keep good tissue quality in our muscles.
Areas that I would get them to hit are:
– Latissimus Dorsi
– Upper trapezius
– Posterior rotator cuff
#3 = Incorporate 3 Dimensional Training
A long with our client’s sitting lifestyle a training mistake that make muscle imbalances worse is our clients is our exercise selection.
A lot of the exercises we get them to do focus in on are in the sagittal plane, so movement that are in the forward direction.
A big thing you can do to balance out their body is to challenge their bodies in all three dimensions.
Get them to so more backward movements like back squats or running backwards. This ends up balancing out the forward movements that we focus too much on.
Get them to do side to side movements (frontal plane). This ends up challenging the stabilizers of the hip and works on the balance in the ankle. Another great example is side lunges which challenge the inner and outer thigh.
Lastly working on rotation (transverse plane) movements. This can be done with lunge walking with upper body rotation. Other examples are using the medicine ball toss.
Next time you are designing your client’s programs, think of the three things above. They will help your client’s recovery, feel better, allow them to fend off muscle imbalances and get better results.
Rick Kaselj is a personal trainer in Surrey, Canada that specializes in designing exercise programs for clients recovering from injuries. Rick has trained thousands of clients and completed his Master’s of Science degree focusing on injury recovery. Rick shares with other fitness professionals and exercise enthusiasts, the muscle imbalance strategies he uses to prevent injuries, overcome injuries and bust through fitness plateaus in the Muscle Imbalances Revealed program. You can get more information about his program by clicking here.