When we talk about physical training, exercise, weight lifting, and sports, we may be talking about a vast segment of training types and methods. But there is something very common and basic issue which is a nightmare and a big concern for all the athletes and training individuals, i.e. “Muscle Imbalance” and “Injury”.
Now before addressing ways on how to deal with them, let’s have a peek into the scenarios where we get prone to such conditions.
As per my experience in gym and lifting weight I have done some “ego” lifting in my initial days when my knowledge about exercise science was narrow. As a result, I suffered injuries and imbalances in my beginning years. Ego lifting is a big concern in our lifting community. New people keep on pounding weights to the bar and push their limits to “fuse” with screams echoing all over the places. So, what is the result of such approach? Improper form, pain, muscle injury, joint injury? Well, we can say it may result in all of those and may keep you away from the iron for good amount of time.
“Technique” and “Form” is the key to a well-developed structured body and also to avoid exercise induced injuries. So, kick the ego when you enter your gym or workout place and add the sensible way of approach for your lifts. Remember, strength is a skill and is gained with practice. Lifting abnormally will lead to imbalances due to improper development of muscles and injuries. So, your first priority should be to learn the technique and master the form. Also, make sure you perform a good warm up before you train a muscle group in order to avoid the exercise-induced injuries.
Now, what to do when we are already dealing with asymmetrical or imbalanced muscles and injuries? It doesn’t have to be “THE END”; there are ways to deal with it. Let’s address those: –
When we talk about the injury, it can be a muscle injury, joint injury or both or even ligament or tendon injury. I am not including the types for the sake of the scope but will address them in general.
An injury is induced when a muscle or a joint is subjected to improper load and are worked against their biomechanics or excessive tensile force resulting in tear or rupture in muscle and connecting tissue and wearing out of joints. As a result, the motor function of the muscle group is impacted to a certain degree which may range from low level to a high.
Now, if at all you face an injury, what should be your immediate step?
- Apply an ice pack to the affected area. Few types of research have also shown that prolonged use of ice pack or excessive cooling can worsen the condition. So keep a moderate approach while applying the pack.
- Keep the impacted area elevated. Even though this has not been researched a lot but it can be helpful sometimes.
These were the first-hand remedies which can be taken as first aid but depending upon the severity of the injury, a proper scanning and consultation of doctor should be done.
Few of us are too hard headed, stubborn to give up to an injury. Such people are highly inspired by the posters on the walls of the gym which ask you to push harder, to never give up, etc., which also includes me. Well, motivation and never giving up approach is indeed a good one but may not be the best. When suffering from injury it is wise to keep the injured body part immobilized for certain period followed by a session of mobility work out. Losing the head in such condition may prevent proper healing and which may result in improper recovery and may induce acute pain and injury to other impacted part. So, in simple words, please stay out and let your body recover.
Post injury training sessions are very crucial in gaining back of strength. It will take some time to gain back the motor function of the muscle group or the injured joint, for which proper rehab workout should be performed under the expert guidance or a physiotherapist. Certain strength workouts which align to the biomechanics of the part with a tolerable range of weight will help in bringing back the previous form. Such workouts can also be performed with a resistance band or free weights.
Muscular imbalances and injury can be termed as two sides of a coin. Improper form while training may lead to the uneven muscular development and improper recovery from an injury may also lead to a weaker body part which may further lead to muscular imbalances. Training to balance out the uneven or imbalanced muscle group can be a bit strenuous sometimes.
The best approach to training them is by performing isolation workout that can be performed by dumbbells, cables or machines. Training them with a good amount of volume can be significantly helpful in their development. Certain researchers have also found that Isokinetic strengthening workout is quite helpful in balancing the lagging muscle and recovery.
Before I end this article, I would like to add some precautionary measures which will help you to perform the workout safely and to prevent the injuries. Use supporters for the sake of your joints. They will thank you some day. Perform proper warm ups and stretching before training and lift sensibly keeping aside your ego. If at all you get injured, take proper care and rest to recover and perform proper rehab workout to gain your previous form.
Author credits – Suraj Ray