Years of providing services at Myo, years of training, these things have trained me to seek out and focus on imbalances and weaknesses. For myself and for many of those we treat day in and day out, this is a good thing. But is it possible that too much focus on imbalances and weaknesses can be a bad thing? In today's blog I'll explore just how and when too much of a good thing can become a very, very bad thing. Enjoy folks! Paul McAvoy Principal Therapist Myokinetics
Introduction: how perfect are you?
Over the years we have seen many clients walking (or hobbling) through the doors at Myokinetics. For many of them our greatest desire is that they would just listen to us and take a few simple steps to ensure a gloriously pain-free future. There are however those who have taken it upon themselves to be the best version of themselves that they possibly can. These clients invariably already exercise and, in some cases, are highly successful professional athletes. Injuries or performance plateaus lead them to Google and they arrive at Myokinetics with a head filled with syndromes and symptoms – each and every one needing to be fixed.
Our job in these cases, is to help them get out of their own way. We simplify the morass of advice and information (mostly well-meaning) that they have absorbed from their on-line search for solutions. We observe their movement patterns and with that data we then direct them to address the obvious deficits that require their immediate attention.
“It is of the highest importance in the art of detection to be able to recognize, out of a number of facts, which are incidental and which vital. Otherwise your energy and attention must be dissipated instead of being concentrated.”
-The Reigate Puzzle
The quest for optimal performance and injury prevention often leads athletes and trainees down the path of addressing muscular imbalances. Whether these imbalances arise from weakness, immobility, or a lack of balance and coordination, the importance of addressing them cannot be overstated. However, there lies a subtle but crucial distinction between seeking improvement and striving for perfection in the pursuit of a well-balanced physique or athlete. There is wisdom in improving performance by eliminating muscular imbalances, however it is a false assumption to then aim for absolute perfection via the elimination of those imbalances and in fact there is the potential for harm associated with such an approach.
The Wisdom of Addressing Muscular Imbalances:
Addressing muscular imbalances is a cornerstone of improving athletic performance. A body that moves in harmony is more efficient, translating to increased strength, power, and agility. By identifying and rectifying weaknesses or mobility issues, athletes can optimize their movement patterns, leading to improved overall performance in their respective sports or fitness activities.
Injury Risk Reduction:
Muscular imbalances are often precursors to injuries, as they can lead to compromised joint stability and altered biomechanics. By focusing on strengthening weak muscles, enhancing mobility, and improving coordination, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of injuries. This proactive approach not only enhances physical resilience but also promotes long-term joint and muscle health.
Beyond the physical benefits, addressing muscular imbalances contributes to holistic well-being. Improveh balance and coordination positively impact mental and emotional health, fostering a sense of confidence and control over one's body. This, in turn, can lead to a more positive outlook on fitness, promoting consistency and adherence to training programs.
The Fallacy of Perfection:
While addressing muscular imbalances is essential, the pursuit of absolute perfection can lead to diminishing returns. The human body is inherently asymmetrical, and some degree of imbalance is natural. Striving for perfection may result in an endless cycle of correction, potentially leading to over-training, burnout, and increased susceptibility to injuries.
The quest for perfection can foster unrealistic expectations, causing individuals to become fixated on minor imbalances that may have minimal impact on overall performance or injury risk. This fixation can contribute to stress, anxiety, and a negative relationship with fitness, hindering the enjoyment of physical activity.
Risk of Over-training:
Overemphasis on eliminating every perceived imbalance may drive individuals to over-train specific muscle groups, neglecting overall body wellness. Over-training can lead to fatigue, compromised immune function, and an increased likelihood of overuse injuries. Striking a balance between addressing imbalances and allowing the body to recover is crucial for sustained progress.
Conclusion: How perfect do you need to be?
In conclusion, the wisdom of improving performance by addressing muscular imbalances is undeniable. It enhances athletic prowess, reduces injury risk, and contributes to overall well-being. However, the fallacy lies in the pursuit of absolute perfection, which can lead to unrealistic expectations, over-training, and diminished returns. Striking a balance between improvement and acceptance of inherent asymmetry is key to a sustainable and fulfilling fitness journey. Embracing the imperfections in our bodies and focusing on overall health and functionality fosters a more realistic and positive approach to fitness. Remember, it's the journey toward balance that matters most, not the unattainable destination of perfection.
When it comes time to review your current training routine, take a moment to consider whether you are addressing your muscular imbalances. If not we would suggest that you start! If you are, then review your progress through testing, and lastly take a moment to consider how much more progress you are likely to get. If you are looking at marginal gains, chances are you’ve done enough. Find another area to work on.
And if in doubt, get an expert to check you out – coaches and rehab specialists are immensely valuable to you. They provide both expertise and, more importantly, impartiality. As they have no skin in your game they’ll likely give you the straight dope on where you need to be focusing your efforts!
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