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Questions from yesterday: Muscle Imbalances/tightness/weakness

Got some great questions in the comment section from yesterday, so instead of making a post on some new material. I will take the time to answer those.....

As a side note, I am starting a healthy lifestyle/fat loss focus group here in AZ (scottsdale). It is going to run 10 weeks. We are going to meet for 1-1.5hr once a week. Each week will be chock full of different material, goal setting and applying healthy habits to your life. It should be lots of fun and people are going to get a great deal of information out of it. It is going to be affordable and well worth all the information and take home material you will get. If you or anyone you know is interested. Please have them get in touch with me (you can reach me through here or the website in my profile) and I can get them some more information on it.

Okay, onto todays questions (or yesterdays questions).

First, these are some LOADED questions. It would take a long time to really answer them and go in depth. I will try and keep things breif and general. As silly as it sounds, a lot of it is going to depend on the person and their specific movement patterns, which I can not see through the internet.

Here are the questions:

1) I would like you to write a blog article on muscular imbalances/weaknesses/tightnesses. I know it is difficult without observation of the person but one in which you see the most problems occur going into detail. It would be great to know some of the technique's to assess these problems and solve them.

Great question! There are several techniques out there that you can use to assess movement. Gray Cook has a Functional Movement Screen that is very good. NASM uses the Overhead Squat assessment that Mike Clark really explains well in their textbook material.

I use few things from each of them. My movement assessment looks like this:

1) Overhead squat test
2) single leg squat (obviously there are times when I leave this out. It depends on the person. When I use it, it is typically to confirm the things I saw in the overhead squat test. Or to take a look at something more indepth.)
3) Cook Hip lift
4) Plank for time
5) push ups

The 6th thing that I sometimes throw in is a rowing movement to look at scpular-humeral rythm and assess their pulling muscles. Occasionally I will have them walk on the treadmill and assess posture and gait. But a lot of that stuff shows itself on the overhead squat and single leg squat test.

Now, I don't know if you are talking about techniques to asses yourself or someone else? In general, it is tough to assess yourself. It is best to get someone to take a look for you. I will list some of the common movement impairments I see at each joint starting with the foot and ankle complex:

- Foot and ankle- I usually see the foot flatten out (overpronate) and the foot turn to the outside (I have them perform the assessment squats with their toes pointed straight ahead. I also like to have them do the squat with their shoes off.). Heels rising off the floor is another common one I see.

- Knee joint-
lots of knees bucking in. Internal rotation of the femur and adduction. Rarely do I see someone go bow-legged. Maybe like 1 out of 20.

- Lumbo-pelvic hip-
You will either see someones lumbar round out OR you see them have an excessive arch. Sometimes their trunk might have an excessive forward lean as well. From the back side, you may sometimes see someones hips shift to one side or the other.

- shoulder joint-
in the overhead squat, I usually see arms fall forward and watching from the back side, I sometimes see the person go into a shrug. At the elbow, sometimes they are unable to completlet straighten their arms out.

So, those are some of the more common things I see as far as movement impairments go.

2) I myself have found when doing squats, my hip flexors always take most of the workload, they are sore as hell the next day. Also, when I stretch my lower back (cat stretch) my hip flexors tighten up. This means I need to stretch these right? Also, when doing a back squat I tend to fall back going atg. I have a mega sore back from squats also, I stretch this and it feels great. But maybe I need to strengthen it? It always murders me when running and also just doing a jog I get a massive ache in my lower leg (ankle area.)

Well, my first question back to you is going to be, "What do you hope to get out of the back squats?" The fact that your hip flexors get stiff after doing them and your lower back hurts probably means they are doing more harm than good. Don't associate pain as being a productive thing. I would probably ditch the back squats for right now in favor of something that is more manageable technique wise. It does sound like your hip flexors are very hypertonic. Have you tried foam rolling them at all? This can be very helpful for inhibiting the muscle spindles and activating the Golgi Tendon Organ to get the muscle to relax a little bit. Go slow, and when you find a tender spot, just stop there and hold that position. You want to apply the tension so that the muscle can relax. Things like tennis balls or lacrosse balls can help you even get a little deeper once you have prepared the tissue properly. After that, try doing some static stretching to restore length. Once the tissue has been inhibited by using the foam roller to take care of the stiffness, the static stretching can be more effective. Follow that with some glute activation exercises like glute bridges and lateral tube walks and then go and hit the weights. Before performing any type of squatting movement, you might even want to stretch your hip flexors out (maybe even between sets too).

3) I myself have some pain in the area where the scapula meets the clavicle on my right shoulder. Feels like a tearing pain in that area. I did some painting of some walls in my house today, and boy does it hurt right now.

Honestly, you need to go see a physical therapist or orthopedist about this. Without being there, I don't want to just take a guess and I am not a physical therapist. A masters degree in Exercise Science does not qualify me to diagnos anyone. It is beyond my scope of practice. Luckily I work with two incredibly smart physical therapists who can handle problems like that. If you were my client, I would refer you to them. I hate when personal trainers over step their grounds and play PT. You need a specialist.

Woke up today and the pain is somewhat less/much better. This stupid pain happens to me once every couple of months or so. Doesn't happen when I lift heavy weights at the gym, normally it happens when I do something repetitively, like the painting of walls I did yesterday or sometimes when I hold a bag/reasonably heavy item for more than 15~20 minutes.

Your focus group sounds fun, too bad I can't go since I live halfway round the globe from where you are.

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