As we’ve mentioned in the past, physical therapy isn’t just for people overcoming an injury or in the wake of surgery. For many, physical therapy is a helpful tool to overcome certain deficiencies or recurring issues. One such issue that we regularly help treat is muscular imbalances. When certain muscles are overdeveloped while others are underdeveloped, you can put yourself at a higher risk of injury, so it’s important to work to carefully correct these imbalances. In today’s blog, we explain why muscle imbalances can develop and how we can help treat them.
Why Do Muscle Imbalances Develop?
Muscle balances can develop for any number of reasons, but they typically develop either as a result of overtraining one specific set of muscles, or failing to properly train other muscles. This can happen if you:
- Have A Singular Workout Focus – A number of muscles work in opposition of one another, like your biceps and triceps. If you overwork your biceps with curls but never perform any triceps extensions, these muscle pairs can become imbalanced.
- Single Sport Athletes – One of the biggest reasons why young athletes are told to consider multiple sports instead of specializing at a young age is because partaking in different sports develops different muscle groups. Always doing the same sport and testing the same muscle groups during training can lead to muscle imbalances.
- Poor Stretching Techniques – Failing to adequately stretch can lead to muscle tightness and imbalances in different areas, like your calves or hamstrings.
- Poor Posture – Finally, having poor posture throughout the day can put extended pressure on certain muscle groups. These muscles can become overdeveloped as they attempt to handle this stress or they can actually weaken as a result of prolonged static pressure, leading to imbalances in different muscle groups.
Diagnosing And Treating Muscle Imbalances
If you suspect that you’re dealing with a muscle imbalance, or an athletic trainer or doctor believes that a recent injury may be the result of muscle balances, consider heading straight to a physical therapist. We’ll work to detect muscle imbalances by observing your posture, gait and how your body responds to certain movements or exercises. Imaging tests may also be ordered to rule out a more significant injury, but are not always necessary.
If a muscle imbalance is found, your physical therapist will quickly set you up with an individualized treatment plan to help strengthen the weaker muscle groups. Specific exercises will be recommended in order to target the right areas, and they’ll walk you through how to perform all of these exercises so that you can perform them in the clinic and from the comfort of your home. Alongside a strength training routine, your physical therapist may also teach you some stretching exercises to help elongate some of your tight muscles that have contracted at the expense of some of the stronger opposing muscles.
Whatever techniques are recommended, it’s important that you develop a routine and stick to it. If you stop doing your home-based exercises or neglect to stretch before activity because you think your muscle imbalance problems are in the past, they can start to develop all over again. Consistent strength training and stretching can help correct these imbalances and prevent them from coming back in the future.
If you need help overcoming a muscle imbalance, or you just want a professional to see if you may be dealing with potentially problematic muscle imbalances, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (612) 339-2041.