Four ways to promote balance in your body (and your workouts)
1.) Begin with a specific mobility sequence. Before asking for strength, we need to ask for function. Carve out 10-20 minutes before your workout to unwind whatever your body has been through prior and remind it how to work in balance and harmony again. This will set your body up to have a better foundation to build strength upon it when you start loading up with resistance.
2.) Hit all the major muscles groups/planes of movement. Our 360 joints and 600+ muscles are all meant to be stimulated on a regular basis. Without stimulation, they will go into conservation mode and become dormant - so, it is our job to keep them awake (or wake them back up). Oftentimes, I see people who only train the same muscle groups and/or movement patterns over and over again. This makes sense from an adaptability standpoint because our body is comfortable training these positions; however, we will eventually lose the ability to perform other movement patterns that we are ignoring over time. Take a hard look at what you are training and ask yourself if you are training all areas of your
body/ planes of movement equally. If you are squatting, are you hinging? If you are pushing, are you also pulling? If you are moving front to back, are you also moving laterally and rotationally? If a movement is challenging for you, that may mean that it is exactly what you need to be doing to find balance and harmony again.
3.) Hit what you don’t get. In the same way we want to challenge all of our muscle groups evenly, we want to take an extra hard look at what movements we are not getting in our everyday life (and/or sports/leisure activities). If your life calls for a lot of movement in the sagittal plane (front to back), make sure you are paying enough attention to movements outside of that box.
4.) Treat both sides the same. A question that often comes up is if we are weaker on our left side, should we do more reps to strengthen that side? If we are tighter on our right side, should we hold the stretch on that side a bit longer? From my research and experience, I have found that challenging both sides of the body evenly (regardless of existing imbalances) will allow the nervous system to regulate the body in a more equal way. Give both sides of your body the same stimulus, and the tighter/weaker side will eventually “catch up” over time.
Stephanie Spoto, CSCS, PAS