How To Stay Symmetrical
You hear it all the time. “That’s my good side” or “that’s my bad (insert body part here).” This is a red flag to trainers, physical therapists, doctors, etc. One of the biggest reasons we assess clients at the beginning of a fitness journey is to find asymmetries in the body. One example is more mobility in your left shoulder than your right or more balance on one side compared to the other. It may seem like a normal thing but it is indicative of future issues. Moving forward in a fitness program without addressing these issues will only make them worse. Form on every exercise can be perfect but you are only hurting yourself if those deep issues are not corrected.
So how can we address symmetry issues? There are a couple strategies to help correct and monitor our asymmetries. First, we do unilateral work. In English, those are exercises that are single arm or leg movements. This type of movement helps isolate and correct imbalances better than bilateral training. It also improves balance, engages more of your core, aids in injury prevention, and helps to rehab prior injuries. Including these movements as assistance exercises or even your big power movements will help to correct many issues. The next strategy is to rest. This is a great strategy especially for people who are trying to train through injury. Oftentimes, we will try to “suck it up” and train through injury. This promotes poor movement patterns as well as increases chances of further injuries. The best thing to do is rest. Taking a few weeks off will benefit you more than pushing through and hurting yourself. The next strategy is our activation patterns. This is a combination of mindfulness as well as having a trained eye watching your lifts. Sometimes muscles won’t fire properly. Training our bodies to fire each muscle properly will go a long way in our staying injury free. The last strategy ties in well with the last. Make sure you communicate with your coach. Tell your trainer that your knee hurts, tell her that your shoulder is tight, tell him that your wrist is bothering you. Chances are that your coach/trainer will be able to help you. Never be afraid to over communicate. You are the one that has to live in your body, not your trainer. Make sure you feel comfortable and stay injury free.
Asymmetries are warning signs of poor movement patterns. Attacking them early and correcting them quickly and safely is what is going to make you successful in your fitness journey. Having a trainer working with you will make sure you are staying on track. It is difficult to see these asymmetries yourself so having a professional there to help you identify these imbalances makes it much easier.
Sean Willitts is an ACE certified personal trainer. He graduated from Kutztown University in 2015 with a bachelor’s is sport management and a minor in fitness. Including training at Body Elite, he is also a record holding powerlifter. He uses his practical experience and knowledge to help his clients achieve their strength and fitness goals.