Correct Imbalances and Prevent Injury with These 4 Simple Exercises

What is a Muscle Imbalance?

A muscle imbalance is a common condition in which one muscle over powers another. Muscles that are disproportionately stronger than others can pull bones and joints out of alignment, causing potentially dangerous postural changes, pain or even injuries.

Focusing on your weakest muscles; the rear deltoids, the rotator cuff muscles, the erector spinae (muscles running along both sides of the spinal column) will help prevent injuries and improve performance in every exercise. This happens because these smaller muscles assist the more developed muscles in lifting heavier weights, leading to faster than ever gains and less risk of injury.

You can do this routine once or twice a week, preferably before your daily workouts. Working your weak links first gives them priority ensuring that you’re working your often neglected muscles when they’re at their freshest.

Incline Row to External Rotation

Lie facedown on a bench that set at a 45 degree incline, and hold a light dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip. Your arms should hand straight down, with our palms facing your feet.

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Keeping your head down,  pull the weights up until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Your elbows should point out to the sides and should be bent at 90 degree angles.

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Keeping your upper arms stationary , rotate the weights forward until your palms face the floor. Pause, then reverse the movement to return to the starting position. Do 12 repetitions, resting 45 to 60 seconds between sets.

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Bent-Over Raise

Sit on the edge of a bench with a light dumbbell in each hand, your arms at your sides and palms toward you. Bend forward at the waist until your chest is just over your thighs.

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Without bending your elbows, squeeze your shoulder blades together and raise the weights until your arms are parallel to the floor.

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Your arms should form a straight line from fist to fist.  Be sure to NOT angle your arms back or forward as shown below.

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Pause then slowly lower your arms. Do 12 repetitions, resting 45 to 60 seconds between sets

 

Quadruped Thoracic Rotation

Begin on all fours, knees directly underneath hips and hands directly underneath shoulders. Place one hand behind your head.

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Keeping your belly button pulled in towards your spine (suck in your gut) and with minimal movement in the lower back and hips, rotate your upper back (between your shoulder blades) and bent arm upwards so that your elbow now points towards the ceiling (or as far as you can comfortably get without rounding or hyper-extending the lower back) and push through the floor with your bracing arm.

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Pause, then slowly reverse the movement and bring the elbow of your elevated arm down towards the elbow of your bracing arm.

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Do 12-15 repetitions on each side, with a speed of each repetition 2 seconds up and 2 seconds down.

 

Doorway Hamstring stretch

Lie on your back next to a support beam on the rig. Lift one leg until its nearly vertical and place your heel against the support beam; rest the other leg on the floor.

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Keeping the raised leg straight, slowly slide forward so that your heel rises along the support beam. Continue inching forward until you feel a stretch along the back of your thigh.

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Gently push your heel against the beam for 3 seconds, relax your leg muscles, then slide farther forward and repeat. Keep your upper body flat on the floor throughout the stretch.  Switch positions to stretch the opposite hamstring. Do 7-10 repetitions per side.

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