Whether minor or major, muscular imbalances from your left side to your right side are common. For example, if you are right handed, you may be stronger in your right arm and shoulder muscles. When people are stronger in one side, they tend to reinforce this strength by using that side more (because it’s more efficient). They may also become stiff and have inadequate range of motion on one side more than the other. An imbalance can eventually lead to pain and dysfunction in your body.
Performing unilateral exercises (movements that put stress on right or left side), can help correct asymmetries, by putting equal stress on both sides independently (so you can’t “cheat” and bear the load on your dominant or stronger side). Unilateral exercises isolate one side, and engage your core uniquely as your body is challenged to balance.
Here are a few unilateral exercises for your upper and lower body you can incorporate into your exercise routine.
1. Reverse Lunges: Take a big step backward with your right leg and lower yourself (slow and controlled) until your knee is a couple inches off the ground (or more, if this is difficult). Make sure you have a chair or wall nearby for balance if needed!
Do 10x on the right side, then 10 on the left. Repeat.
2. Unilateral Half-Kneeling Overhead Press: Kneeling with your left knee out in front of you, and a dumbbell or kettlebell in your right hand, perform an overhead press.
Do 10x with hand in your right hand, then switch (so right knee is out in front, and weight is in left hand). Repeat.
3. Single Leg Romanian Deadlift: Balancing on your left leg, hinge forward at your hips until you feel a good stretch in your left hamstring or until you’re parallel with the ground. Keep your core tight so that you don’t hunch forward in your back. Your left foot should be grounded, and your left knee should not be locked.
Unilateral training is great for muscular asymmetries, core strength, and balance training. Let us know if you have any questions or are dealing with any pain in your exercise routine! 616-662-0990
By: Lisa Pfotenhauer, C-EP
Your neck is made up of 7 vertebrae at the top of your spine, and surrounded many muscles and tendons that control the head movements and support your neck and head.
Unfortunately, neck pain is pretty common. Here are some of the most common causes, and how to handle them if you experience neck pain:
1. Poor posture – Less-then-ideal posture can put stress on your neck, and can even cause headaches. The force of gravity and the weight of your head when it’s out in front of your torso is much greater than when it’s aligned with the rest of your body, causing a strain on your neck. If you suspect too much slouching at your work computer, driving, or phone time may be causing your neck pain, check out these blogs on posture tips for driving, and posture tips for at your desk! If you need some guidance on fixing your posture, we have lots of exercises and stretches we recommend! Give us a call.
2. Acute muscle strain – Maybe you were playing a sport, or slept funny, got whiplash in your car, or just turned your neck in an unusual way, and now you’re feeling the pain every time you turn your head. Don’t fret, this is not uncommon and usually goes away within a couple days. Do: ice to calm the pain, take ibuprofen if needed, rest, gently stretch your neck as tolerable, and see your physical therapist or doctor if the pain has not subsided within a week.
3. Herniated or degenerative disc, osteoarthritis, or a pinched nerve – These are a few of the more common serious neck injuries. Fortunately, they can often be effectively treated with physical therapy. If your neck pain has been going on a long time, or is very sharp, we would recommend starting with physical therapy. Physical therapy is very effective for creating the stability and mobility your body needs to alleviate pressure that may be on your disc(s) or nerve. If it appears you may need surgery or another route, our physical therapists will help direct you and find the route that you need for your neck pain.
Neck pain can be very debilitating, and our goal is always to help you take control of your care and be able to do the things you love, pain-free. If your pain has been going on a while or is severe, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We can get you set up with one of our licensed physical therapists within 24 hours: 616-662-0990.
“Cervical Pain,” William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR, 2019, medicinenet.com
“Neck Pain,” Mayo Clinic, 2019, mayoclinic.com
By: Lisa Pfotenhauer, C-EP
Steve Bartz, PT