Balance Doesn't Stop at Riding your Bicycle
Anything done is excess can be harmful. This is one of the many reasons I think balance throughout life is so important. And it doesn’t stop at riding your bicycle. I see many cardio athletes who neglect to perform strength training, many resistance athletes who avoid stretching routines and so on and so forth. And although it’s a good thing to train in certain arenas and be active, life will always remind you that you need to find balance to continue to move forward and find success.
Balancing all forms of exercise (strength, flexibility and cardio) will require trial and error as it depends on many factors including how much time you have, the space you have available and resources. My job here is to make sure you understand the importance of balancing exercise types and provide you a helping hand to find it. Today, we’re going to discuss several examples where balance is important and where you can go to start practicing exercise balance.
In my practice, I can typically put a patient into one of two categories. The first is the loosey goosey and weak category. The second is the super rigid and strong category. Neither one of these is better than the other and anyone can be a blend of these two body types depending on their training and daily life. Regardless of what category you are in, each can cause any number of injuries that can be prevented by restoring balance of strength and flexibility to the body.
Let’s talk about the shoulder joint for a minute. In many activities throughout the day we are in a rounded, forward, flexed position to meet whatever activity we are performing. This becomes problematic because the muscles in the front of the shoulder can become tight and/or the muscles in the back that maintain proper shoulder posture become lengthened and weak. This scenario creates a perfect storm for shoulder injuries. The way we treat this is by balancing the strength of the back and the flexibility of the front of the shoulder.
Similarly, our hip tends to have shortened, tight muscles in the front and looser, weak muscles in the back for those of use who do a lot of sitting throughout the day. The obvious solution here is to do less sitting which would help. But for those of us who have a tendency to be tight or weak we need to balance those impairments to reduce risk of injury in addition to limiting sitting duration. These injuries include but are not limited to, low back pain, hip arthritis and a number of tendonopathies. To avoid these we must correct the imbalance of weakness and/or stiffness then work to maintain this balance consistently.
Another example is a runner who neglects to strengthen and creates an injury as a result of repetitive loading without the strength to support. Your body does a good job compensating for these imbalances without you consciously thinking about it in order to accomplish the task to you need to achieve. Ultimately, this compensation will form an injury if not corrected. This will also apply for a resistance athlete who doesn’t have the flexibility to move through proper range of motion, resulting in the overuse of an alternative muscle group and ultimately an injury. The list of scenarios goes on and on. Every one points to balancing exercise.
From the examples provided today, I hope it is obvious the importance of balancing each form of exercise to avoid injuries and live a healthy life. The first step moving forward is to schedule an appointment with your physician and physical therapist. This will ensure you are safe to exercise and provide you with specific and individualized next steps. Every body is different and therefore balancing these activities will look different for each person. So speak with a professional for an individualized evaluation. If you would like that professional to be me, contact me on my social media accounts or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t stretch too much but not too little. Strength train but don’t forget endurance and flexibility. Get in your cardio but remember strength and flexibility will help you perform better with reduced risk of injury. You can sit for work but make sure you stand frequently to shake the cobwebs off. Find your balance.