Monday, December 11

Maximizing Sports Training by Improving Postural Balance

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Didn’t your mom always tell you to stand up straight? We’ll from an athletic standpoint I’m going to tell you why.

Developing postural balance is simply performing exercises that work to keep the body in an optimally balanced state. This is a key concept for maximizing strength and preventing injuries.

The Body is a System of Levers

It is important to understand that the body is a lever system controlled by the muscles that lift and lower the 

levers. It is important that the muscles that move these levers are balanced from one side of the lever to the other.

Otherwise the result will be similar to two kids getting on one side of a teeter totter while there is only one kid on the other side! You can guess what happens.

The body was designed to have a balance with the joints of the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and head all stacked on top of each other. There should be no excessive leaning or pulling forward, backwards or side to side. 

The body does not work well when this alignment of joints is not in synch. The body brings me back to the teeter-totter example. If one side of the body has stronger or tighter muscles it will pull the other side towards it. 

This will cause the opposing muscles to become tight and weak due to constantly working to pull the levers of the body to its natural state of being straight up and down.

By having an understanding of what muscles oppose each other and what a tight or weak muscle is you can strengthen and stretch the muscles of the body accordingly to create postural balance.

If you are not educated enough on this subject try visiting a chiropractor, knowledgeable massage therapist or ART (Active Release Technique) practitioner.

Common weak muscles are found in areas of the upper back like the rhomboids, lower trapezius, infraspinatus and teres minor. 

Other weak muscles are in the posterior neck, glutes, hamstrings, hip rotators and muscles of the outer hip like the glute medius and IT band. 

Common tight muscles are the chest, and many of the muscles in the hips. Many of these issues can be cleared up and turned into strengths by using a corrective exercise and flexibility

Preventing Injuries and Increasing Strength

By incorporating stretching and corrective exercises you can prevent many injuries and actually get stronger. Weaknesses can actually become strengths and aid stronger muscles to push or pull harder because they are not fighting each other. 

Another reason your strength will improve by becoming muscularly balanced is that the body naturally protects movements that involve weak muscles.  For example a baseball pitcher may not realize his body won’t throw as hard as it could because there are weak muscles in the upper back and rotator cuff. 

By strengthening these muscles the body will recognize more of a balance and realize it is all right to throw a fast pitch because the force of the forward motion will not tear the rotator cuff muscles of the upper back and shoulder.

This has also been shown for athletes who want to bench press maximal weight. Weak upper back muscles will not allow an athlete to stay in the shoulder back power position necessary to keep a shorter range of motion that helps a great bench presser. 

The weak muscles of the upper back can’t hold back the shoulder blades to minimize the distance of the bar touching the chest and to the full extension of the movement. This increases the range of motion and makes the body have to push the further to finish the movement. 

A strong upper back that aids in a shorter range of motion is a huge factor for being a good bench presser. As a trainer I have seen many athletes increase their bench press with a specialized routine to strengthen the upper back muscles. They did this for 4-6 weeks and did not perform any bench presses. Then after the corrective training their bench press maximum shot up dramatically.

By: Sports Training

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