Today, we are going to dive into the world that is injury prevention, correcting imbalances and some of my top training tips.
First, let's start with why. Why did I choose to write this?
First things first, I put a big emphasis on proper technique with everyone that I train. Poor technique leads to the majority of injuries and also imbalances. Injuries normally occur when the person lifting does so with bad technique, is not properly prepared to lift the weight, or if the weight is too heavy.
Encouraging proper technique is not achieved over a single session, it is an ongoing process every time you pick up a weight. As soon as you get fatigued, lazy or distracted, bad habits and poor technique creep back in. Those last 2, 3, 4 reps are when most people hurt themselves and teach themselves the wrong technique. Retraining bad habits can take quite some time, especially if you don't focus on it 100% every time you lift.
One bad rep can set you back another 3 to correct it, so if you're doing the last 4 reps poorly of a 12 rep set, then you've just eliminated that set altogether. Your body always knows the “easiest” way to lift something, whether it be to shorten range, reduce quality of posture, change movement pathways or anything along this lines, it just knows. This doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it, it just means your body is smarter than you think.
When technique becomes compromised, this is when muscle imbalances arise, often leading to injuries, and long term ailments. All those trips to the chiro, osteo, physio are avoidable, if you just took the time to work out how and why it is happening. Long term ailments are not normal, and can be rectified under the right care and supervision. Most people who have training related injuries and niggling pains are often attributed to poor technique, over training or simply lifting a weight that is too heavy.
If you are forever doing a movement/exercise incorrectly, then this has the ability to cause a muscle imbalance and can create an imbalance of strength from left to right hand side, or even from upper to lower body. Imbalances are also caused by incorrect exercise choices as well as insufficient stability through the surrounding joints. For example, when you squat, do you knees collapse in at the bottom of the movement? Does that affect how deep you can squat, and where you feel the movement? If you said yes, it's an obvious sign that your glutes are weak and not firing correctly, as well as a potential dominant, over active adductor issue. If this is the case, accessory exercises will be more beneficial for you until you strengthen those muscles to allow you to squat with better technique and strength.
Exercises like hip extensions, crab walks with a micro band, hip thrusts, step ups, lunges etc etc. will all be beneficial with strengthening the surrounding joints to allow more strength and power when squatting again.
The next time you're training, try and feel any imbalances throughout the movements.
Does one shoulder have more range?
Is one hip tighter than the other?
Do you feel the exercise more on one side than the other?
These are all samples of muscle imbalances and can be corrected under the right guidance before they become a bigger issue and cause you long term problems.
Some of my top training tips are;
Always do some mobility before training. Things like doing some myofascial release on a foam roller and trigger point ball are very helpful.
Activate muscle groups that you rarely train. If doing chin ups for example, activate biceps and triceps to assist elbow flexion, rotator cuffs to assist scapula retraction and depression, and lats to aid scapula retraction also, by doing some accessory movements at a lighter weight to properly "wake them up".
Always work on your flexibility and depth through every movement. Squat for depth if you hips allow it. Go to full range through your elbows and knees when doing a flex/extend movement like push ups.
Stay well hydrated to prevent restriction of muscle contractions.
Always train with a friend or trainer so they can help you correct technique for a safer and more effective workout.
I hope you found this informative and I would love your feedback and for you to share it so others can also benefit.