As a writer, nothing is more frustrating than being satisfied with a piece than you accidentally delete. I tried to re-write this as best I could, but I hope you understand the difficulties of duplicating.
In Part II, I wrote about the adaptation process and how it relates to the creation of muscular imbalances. I hate admitting it, but that was my golden gun. Part III contains my science-less meandering thoughts that couldn’t find a home elsewhere.
#1 – Ratios) Last I checked, humans didn’t have drivers manuals in their glove compartments. (I’ll let your creative mind decide which orifice this would be.)
One research study that I witness looked at female’s quadriceps to hamstring strength, comparing the results to an accepted norm (60-80% differential). Like most similar studies, strength was measured with leg extensions and leg curls. But what befuddles me is that the leg muscles are never really used in isolation. Yet, for studies that are used
help athletes, these machines are used with regularity.
Neither the type of strength is considered (be it dynamic, isometric, concentric, starting, etc.), nor the demands of the position. A striker in soccer should have more explosive knee extension than most athletes because they kick soccer balls around daily — and pretty damn hard at that.
Saying injury occurs because you don’t have a balance between the quadriceps and hamstrings bleeds ignorance because it completely ignores the muscles of the hip and their role in controlling lower body movement.
Look, if you want to tell be baseball players need a strong rotator cuff and overall strong back, that’s fine. I agree. But how can you tell me that we need row a certain percentage of our bench? There isn’t a standard row that mimics the barbell bench press. And when we become more intricate with testing, we start entering a realm that is different than what’s encountered in real life, like using muscles in isolation.
#2 – Normal) How do we know what normal is? Do we really know that injuries are caused from imbalances? Eric Cressey mentions this in one of his articles.
“Once again, we realize that just about everyone is “abnormal…” Cressey says, “…and that we really don’t even know what ‘healthy’ really is.”
“Do thorough assessments and nip inefficiencies in the bud…” Cressey continues, “…before they become structural abnormalities that reach a painful threshold.”
But this doesn’t make sense. How can we fix something abnormal that might be absolutely normal in someone else?
#3 – Injuries) If imbalances don’t cause injuries, then what does? I default to my adaptation model and Selye’s stress response.
If a stressor occurs more frequently than the body can adapt to, OR
If a stressor occurs at a higher intensity than the body is adapted to, THEN
We get injured.
I hear of overseas baseball pitchers pitching more frequently and more intensive than us Americans, and with a much lower injury rate (I think). Are they worried about muscular balance? Probably not as much as we are. They want to create a workhorse, and they understand that in order to pitch a lot, you have to pitch a lot, not slank around on a bosu ball doing fifty plank variations.
It’s like that time you benched after a long layoff and felt the twinge in your shoulder. You pushed on, trying not to upset the bro balance in your commercial gym. Next week, same story. And then a few more pass before you’re complaining about some shoulder injury. Are you going to tell me that’s because you can’t row a certain percentage of your bench?
Or when you’re too anal to deload. You go to the gym lethargic and tired week after week, pushing through your workouts. And that one day during your dumbbell rows you feel a pull in your back and you mutter to yourself, “I knew I should have taken last week off.”
I work magic with my clients knee pain. I talk about shifting the emphasis to the hip muscles, which amounts to me claiming to fix people’s hips. There’s no magical ratio between lifts. Truthfully, I’m not concerned with numbers. If they can get the job done and they feel healthy, I don’t see a need to stress over it. It’s been working for me so far.
It’s up to you to decide which philosophy you agree with, and how to make it work for your situation. But I’ll send you off with some thoughts from Eric Cressey and Bret Contreras (thanks to both for taking the time to read it).
Eric Cressey: “My response would be maybe – and that asymmetry is completely normal. Excessive asymmetry is the problem.”
Bret Contreras: “Regarding your blogposts, I read both of them and can tell you that I, and my professor, have similar thoughts on the matter. We were having a talk the other day and we don’t agreed that neither of us knew the answer to the “imbalance” issue.
It’s something that really needs to be researched though – we might find that we should “leave them alone” or we might find that doing general strength training for the opposite side might help prevent injuries. I could argue either side, as I’m sure you could too.”
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