Identifying & Fixing the Most Common Muscular Imbalance

greek disc thrower
“Every ‘body’ tells a story… let the body speak to you.” – Vladimir Janda

This article is part of theIdentifying & Fixing Imbalancesseries, which addresses common muscular imbalances.

Take a quick look at all these pictures…What do they have in common?

sitting car

All these individuals’ body alignment are pulled in, similar to the fetal position.

Why does that matter? Because it affects your posture, muscular balance, mood, and even your hormones!

Everyday we spend hours in the fetal position and aren’t even aware of it.  This affects your posture and muscular balance for obvious reasons, but what most aren’t aware of is that it affects far beyond that.  Your body responds holistically to how you carry yourself.  I was first made aware of this by some of Mike’s posts at D&P.  He covers some great points and lists some of his favorite exercises to correct this problem.

I would like to add on to Mike’s suggestions with a few of my own.  Doing these exercises daily will help fix the most common muscular imbalance (at least in developed nations) and leave you feeling refreshed, stronger, and more confident.

Stage 1 – the standard stretch

Mike does these regularly.  It’s easy to do, stretches the muscles in the opposite direction of the fetal position we commonly adopt, and promotes blood flow and deep breathing.  An added bonus is you can do these anywhere without people looking at you weird.  Whenever I feel sluggish at work, I will do this stretch a few times to get blood and muscles oxygenated.

 If you sit at work (something I would advise against), you can perform a variation of this stretch by placing your hands behind your head and arching back.  Not as good, in my opinion, but still helps.

IMG_1156

Stage 2 – The back bend

This takes the standard stretch to the next level by arching your back further and really stretching all the muscles along the front of your body.  Some balance is required as you go further.

IMG_1160

If you have balance issues or you want a deeper stretch, you can use a wall to walk yourself further down.

stage 3 – the back bridge

The king of anti-fetal position stretches.  The back bridge stretches the shoulders, pecs, abs, spine, and the front of the hips and thighs.  In addition, it strengthens the shoulders, spine, glutes, and thighs.

back bridge in snow

For extra badassery, do back bridges like these guys.

Training volume

I would suggest doing these stretches daily.  Here’s a sample routine that will help combat the daily wear of being in a fetal position:

  • First thing in the morning – Perform 5-10 of the standard stretches, breathing deep and stretching up & back.  Then, depending on your level of fitness and flexibility, perform a 10-20 second back bridge or back bend.
  • Throughout the day – Perform standard stretches as needed.  Whenever you’re feeling tired, tight, or stressed, do about 2-3 stretches standing up on seated at your desk.
  • In the evening Add a back bridge or two to your workout routine.  I personally treat it as a stretch to do during my cool-down.  Experiment and find where in your workout routine it works best for you.  Shoot for 10-30 seconds per rep.
Feedback

Give these exercises a shot for a couple of weeks and let me know how you feel.  What were some benefits you noticed?  What were the challenges?  Were there any specific issues you experienced while doing these stretching routines?

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10 thoughts on “Identifying & Fixing the Most Common Muscular Imbalance

    • I firmly believe how you carry yourself has a cascading effect. It affects how you breathe, how you feel, how you behave, and so on. Mike is definitely onto something.

  1. thanks for sharing.

    i used to do the bridge from standing when i was young. (sadly, i had never been able to do a walk over, cause standing to a 1-leg bridge scared me. had no courage to try)

    now, i only do back bend (but not bridge)

    this year i’m deteremind to improve my arabesque (+ side split) (i’m also a dancer)

    you just inspired me to train for bridge tho. seeing the “alpha males” doing it, XD. but have to slowly train up to it. cause i have not done bridge in years.

    cheers,

    • Glad to hear you’re continuing to improve yourself, Pam. I occasionally do the back bridge when I feel I really need to stretch out my whole upper body. I wouldn’t worry about all the embellishments to the back bridge. Most of that is just for show and to impress. If you can get to it from the ground, that’s good enough.

      One of my goals this year is to also improve my side and front splits. Best of luck to you.

      • believe it or not, if you can do back bridge from floor & hold it w ease for few seconds, back band from standing into bridge than stand up again is not that difficult. (i learned it in one day when i was pretty young)

        i can do front splits. but side split is something else. i think it has something to do with the pelvis bone.

        happy training, ^_^

  2. Hello, Jacob,

    i just purchased Kit Laugling’s backbend series ($10) on vimeo couple weeks ago. it’s too early to tell if it’s working tho
    (i wish there were fewer exercise that require a partner or prop.)

    cheers,

  3. Hi, Jacob,

    i think it’s slowly working! (i mean my side split & backbend)

    i really like that all of Kit Laughlin’s instructors train as adults. so this is what his method targets at.

    he has some freebie exercises on youtube, also some pay download on vimeo (which is where i got “backbend bundle”)

    another 2 channels i like like Blackbelt secret & Elastic Steel
    (Elastic Steel has freebies + has some paid programs)

    cheers,

    • Hey Pam, glad to hear you’re improving! I’ve watched a lot of the Elastic Steel videos on YouTube. Guy definitely knows his stuff. I’ll have to look into the other sites you mentioned. Keep working hard!

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