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What causes muscular imbalances?

Muscular imbalances are often caused by a lifestyle with little physical activity. On the flip side, unnatural, repetitive movements may be the blame. Our jobs, lifestyle, hobbies and habits are all factors that contribute.

Many of us have lifestyles where we are at a desk much of our day. Sitting in a hunched position typing, reading, writing, even sewing for more than three hours can cause unnatural posture and deconditioning (loss of strength), all of which can lead to potential musculoskeletal imbalances and even injury.

Others of us have jobs or hobbies which require hours of repetition like pushing, pulling, lifting, moving and twisting. While these movements are certainly more physical, they can also lead to muscular imbalances because we typically neglect to use our core muscles, nor do we condition our bodies to move in a side-to-side or rotating direction (lateral or tranverse planes)

To prevent muscular imbalances, when you are sitting or standing for long periods focus on good posture. Try to take walking breaks every 2-3 hours at the very least.

When performing repetitive movements engage your core (contract your abdominal muscles and glutes), and try to change up your movements when you are able.

When working out be sure to incorporate balance and core training as well as exercises in the lateral (side-to-side) and transverse (rotating) planes. These will help condition your body when these movements are demanded.

Muscular Imbalances can be caused by improper seated or standing postures.  If you are constantly sitting because of work or are stuck in a car these postures will cause muscle imbalances. The muscles will adapt to the skeletal postures that they are stressed in. For example, if your job requires you to sit at a desk or computer all day, you could develop a foward head posture. In foward head posture, the Sternocleidomastoid, Scalenes, Pectoral major and minor become overactive and tight pulling your head foward. While the Rhomboids, Middle and Lower Trapzieum,  get weak and allow the head and shoulders to be pulled out of alignement. Proper flexibility and strenghtening of these muscles will prevent muscle imbalances like this from occuring.
Muscular imbalances can result from many issues including the following:
  • Postural stress
  • Emotional stress
  • Repetitive movement (such as a job or exercise training)
  • Poor training technique
  • Lack of core strength
  • Lack of neuromuscular control

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.