Are you an active person but suffer from chronic injuries that prevent you from having the quality of life you seek? You might be surprised to learn that a number of exercise-related injuries can be prevented or mitigated through better mobility and better muscle symmetry.
If you have ever done a hip opening yoga pose like Pigeon, you may have realized just how much a difference there is in flexibility and strength between your left and right sides! When muscles are asymmetrical in strength or in flexibility, your risk of injury increases. Muscle imbalances can lead to back pain, slipped discs, knee pain, pinched nerves, and a variety other painful conditions.
Athletes that engage in activities like tennis, golf and baseball that require a dominant side are particularly at risk for muscle imbalance. But it's not just exercise that can contribute to asymmetry. Do you have small children and hold them on the same side consistently? What about a purse or heavy bag? Do you frequently cross your legs when seated? Do you regularly sleep in an asymmetrical position?
Imbalance may not just be left-right either. If your exercise or daily routine involves repeated movements in one plan of motion, like running, chances are you're developing muscles asymmetrically. If you can run a marathon but find lunges difficult, it's because you're engaging many more muscles during that static lunge hold than during your distance runs.
Yoga directly addresses muscle imbalances that lead to injury by focusing on balance and symmetry. A great yoga class takes the fully body, all muscles and major joints, through their full ranges of motion. Regular yoga builds more symmetry to your muscle strength and flexibility.
Not sure if you have muscle imbalance? Check out this article for some ways to check. And next time you're at the studio, really pay attention to your body and where you may have some asymmetries that need balancing.