Isn’t it amazing how flexible children are? They can squat down and put their butt to their heels and sit in this position for as long as they want. How can their bodies twist and maneuver with such ease and comfort? Nearly everyone has experienced a time when they saw a child show muscle balance and do something with their bodies that they couldn’t even imagine ever doing. It is often hard to believe that we were all just as flexible
The secret is that children’s bodies, specifically their muscles, haven’t experienced the stress that we put our bodies through. As we get older, more and more strain is placed on our bodies. We lift our kids, hunch over our computer desks, train for marathons, help friends move, and attempt complex yoga poses. Think about all the things you did today to put stress on your muscles.
Every time we put too much stress on our bodies, and don’t give them the proper time to heal and recuperate (which is most of the time), our muscles become unbalanced. Over time this adds up, which we will eventually feel as tight or sore muscles, weak ankles or backaches.
Balanced muscles allow our bodies to function at a higher level. We’ll have more energy to play with our kids or go to the gym or even carry more grocery bags at once. We feel stronger and healthier. With balanced muscles, our bodies can exist as they once did as children—in a pain-free state.
How Do I Know if My Muscles Are Balanced?
There are some sure signs that can indicate imbalanced muscles, such as those mentioned above. There are also some at-home range of motion tests you can do to determine where specific imbalances may be:
At-Home Muscle Range of Motion Tests
1. Trunk Rotation:
- Sit in a chair nice and tall with your legs uncrossed.
- Throughout this entire test, keep your hips facing forward.
- Cross your arms across your chest.
- Slowly rotate your trunk to one side, then to the other.
- It may be helpful to have someone watch you as you do this test and answer these questions: Is it easier to rotate to one side than the other? Are you rotating farther to one side than the other? Do you feel your hips or trunk pulling away from a full, upright position on one or both sides?
If the answer is “yes” to one or more of these questions, you may have some muscle imbalances in your trunk area.
- Leg Lift:
- Lie flat on your back.
- While keeping your knee straight, slowly raise one leg as high as you comfortably can. Repeat with the other leg.
- Questions: Can you lift one leg higher than the other? Do your legs lift straight up or are one or both legs trying to angle themselves? Can you lift your leg up without bending your knee at all?
How high you can lift your leg will vary by person, but if one is easier to lift than the other one or can go higher, there is no reason why both legs shouldn’t be equal. Also, this should not be a painful exercise. If it is, that is another sign of imbalanced muscles.