Muscle balance and its importance to your health and fitness goals!

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In “Learn functional movements correctly and move freely for life!” I discussed how it is essential for the joint to remain centered so efficiency of body movements are maximized and injury (acute or chronic) does not occur.

To ensure the joint is centered – allowing ease of movement and joint health – the strength and length of muscles within the body need to be balanced. Weak and/or tight muscles lead to muscle imbalances.

Muscle imbalances can occur side to side, front to back or around a joint.

There are 2 recognized causes of muscle imbalance:

Biomechanical approach – Kendall and Sahrmann: are via repetition of movements or prolonged posture  

Neuromuscular approach – Janda: are via certain muscle groups being weak or tight .

The neuromuscular approach is based on movement patterns that evolved from birth. Janda noted that phasic group muscles are prone to weakness and postural group muscles are prone to tightness.

Just to clarify: Postural muscles sustain your posture with respect to gravity. Phasic muscles are more suited to movement.

Below is a summary, taken from Janda’s work, categorizing postural and phasic muscles :

Postural (Prone to Tightness)

Phasic (Prone to Weakness)

Gastroc-Soleus

Hip Adductors

Hamstrings

Rectus Femoris

Iliopsoas

Tensor Fascia Lata

Piriformis

Erector-Spinae (thoraco-lumbar)

Suboccipital muscles

Quadratus Lumborum

Pectoralis Major & Minor

Latissumus Dorsi

Upper Trapezius

Levator Scapulae

Scalenes

Sternocleidomastoid

Peroneals

Tibialis Anterior

Vastus Medialis

Vastus Lateralis

Gluteus Maximus

Gluteus Medius

Transversus Abdominus

Multifidus

Rectus Abominus

Abdominal Obliques

Serratus Anterior

Rhomboids

Lower & Middle Trapezius

Deep neck flexors

Janda’s research led him to identify 3 specific syndromes associated with musculoskeletal dysfunction and pain:

Upper crossed, lower crossed and layer.

Day to day we see these syndromes as rounded shoulders and forward head posture or pain in the lower back (L4/5 S1) and anterior pelvic tilt.

The good news is there are corrective exercises you can undertake as well as self massage techniques you can learn to ensure your imbalances are minimized.

..and once corrected your path to achieving your fat loss, best body or sports specific goal will be MUCH easier!

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