Lela's Fitness Tip #2

Our bodies are built in balance, each muscle group acting as a equalizer to another muscle group. Our pectoral muscles counterbalance the muscles of our upper back; the biceps and triceps work in tandem to move our arm. In order for our arm to extend, our biceps must lengthen and our triceps must shorten.

So what happens when our bodies are out of balance? Inflexibility is the most common form of imbalance. When one muscle group is tight, the corresponding opposing muscle group must lengthen to accommodate. The most common inflexibility issue is tight hamstrings.

The hamstring attaches just under the glutes and runs down the leg to the knee. When the hamstring is unnecessarily tight, the quadriceps must provide slack by over-elongating. The quadriceps are the muscles that are on the front of the thigh. With the quadriceps over stretched, the knee is left in an instable environment, causing knee pain and slippage.

Another common imbalance that affects the upper body is elongated muscles of the upper back complemented, unfortunately, by shortened pectorals.This can cause the rounded shoulder look that is often associated with poor posture. This disparity is seen even in the fittest of individuals because there is an over emphasis on pushing movements( push ups, bench presses) and not enough attention is paid to pulling movements (pull ups, rows). Another aspect of this complex is a lack of good stretching routines for the upper body. Instability in the thoracic spine can cause upper back pain and an increased incidence of rotator cuff injuries are common in people who display these issues.

So, how do we repair these imbalances? We have to take a hard look at out training programs and make sure we aren't just doing what we like to do, but what is right for our bodies. Stretching may seem like a boring waste of time, but without it we are dooming our selves to imbalances. Likewise, strong pecs and abs may look good in the mirror, but unless you have the strenth in your upper and lower back to match them, you will pay heavily in the long run.

So here's the challenge-- push as much as you pull and lengthen as much as you shorten.

Thanks for your time, Please feel free to e-mail any comments or questions.

Lela Simon
ACE certified personal trainer

By: Lawson