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muscular-imbalance

7 Common Bad Habits That Cause Muscular Imbalances

A muscular imbalance occurs when you use one side of your body more than the other. Over time, the overused muscles on that side become tight and sore, while the underused muscles on the other side grow weak and atrophied. This can cause one-sided pain and stiffness, and increase your risk for injuries.

Some habits that cause muscular imbalances are easy to identify. For example, tennis players and bowlers often overwork their dominant hand. However, even the most innocuous movements can lead to imbalances. Here are some things to watch out for.

 

Leading with Your Dominant Leg on Stairs

You already know that you have a dominant hand, which is typically the hand that you write with. But did you know that most people also have a dominant leg? Pay attention when you go up and down the stairs. If you always lead with the same leg, force yourself to start alternating. It will feel strange at first, but will become more natural with practice.

 

Carrying Items with the Same Shoulder or Hand

Pay attention to everything you pick up, from your purse and child to your toothbrush and hair dryer. Most people find that they naturally carry everything with the same shoulder or hand. Intentionally challenge yourself to switch sides regularly to avoid overworking your arms and hands on your preferred side.

 

Always Sleeping on the Same Side

If you sleep on the same side, or on your stomach, every night, your head will be turned the same way every night. This can cause an imbalance in the muscles in your neck, leading to neck and back pain and headaches. Force yourself to switch sides or spend part of the night on your back.

 

Holding Your Phone or Tablet in One Position

Holding your electronic device at waist level forces you to look down, straining your neck. Holding it up higher relaxes your neck and shoulders, but can strain your arms. Intentionally change positions frequently, and try to use a computer at a desk whenever possible.

 

Crossing Your Legs the Same Way

Most people who cross their legs normally put the same leg on top each time. This can actually throw the muscles in your legs and back out of alignment, causing an imbalance. Try not to cross your legs for extended periods, and when you do, switch off which leg is on top.

 

Supporting Your Weight on One Leg

A surprising number of people do not stand up straight. Instead, they lean against a counter or wall, or shift their weight to one leg. Check your stance by placing your legs hip-width apart and closing your eyes. Purposely shift your weight from one side to the other, paying attention to how it feels. If one side feels less stable and secure, focus on building up that side.

 

Extended Driving

Driving for long periods of time overworks the right foot and leg, especially if you have an automatic transmission. Align your feet and pelvis by propping your left foot on the pad built into your car for this purpose. Also take breaks every two hours or so to get out and walk around.

Muscular imbalances can lead to pain and stiffness, and increase your risk for injuries. Many common daily habits can cause imbalances, so it is important to pay attention to evenly using both sides of your body.

 

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