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Structural & Muscular Balance

I am sat writing this from my chiropractor’s office in London’s Liverpool St area. Laptop perched on a desk, a band wrapped around my bare torso, and underneath that band at the rear is some fancy laser contraption designed to reduce the inflamed tendons of my poor, aching rotator cuff. Constant weekly trips for ART (Active Release Techniques) and laser treatment have become a feature of my life, so how and why did it come to this? After all, am I not supposed to be an expert..

Well m’Lord, the case for the defence states that I haven’t always been the font of all exercise and biomechanics knowledge.I too was once one of the unenlightened and as guilty as anyone of poor exercise form and structurally imbalanced training programmes.In fact I was even worse than the so-called average man…I was once (wait for it)..a baby bodybuilder! If you don’t instantly know what one of these little horrors is, you have probably never been to a “real gym”.Baby bodybuilders are the teenage (or even early 20s) lifeblood of so many macho sports and pastimes, and what they lack in knowledge and patient application they sure as hell make up for in enthusiasm and gung ho enthusiasm! Lift big, eat big, sleep big is the mantra of the baby bodybuilder, and boy did I do that. 280lbs plus at 21 years of age, and heavy weights, I ate them for breakfast! 600lb deadlifts, 650lb squats, 160lb incline dumbbell press all before I even turned the age of 22. I gave my body such a pounding, and because it was young, and I was dumb, it could just about take it. Did I ever (and I mean ever) work on my flexibility, on mobility, on my stabilizers? Purlease why waste time on that sort of thing, it wasn’t going to help me get any bigger was it?!

Ah, if only I’d known the error of my ways. If you don’t always strive for structural balance you’ll end up limiting your gains, limiting your movement, and injured. The importance of achieving structural balance and the significance of having all your supporting muscles work optimally to stabilise the bigger and more “showy” muscles was once highlighted by the analogy “you can’t shoot a cannon out of a canoe”. My apologies to the originator of this quote (I can’t recall who it was, my memory tells me Fred Hatfield but I may be totally off the mark) for failing to give him the credit he deserves, but I hope that you all follow my meaning.If you fail to train the fixators and stabilisers of the shoulder for example, you will end up with soft tissue damage, impingement and painful sleepless nights (hark to the voice of experience) all because you failed to work the tiny (and easy and unchallenging to train) muscles that ensure healthy scapular stability and effective internal and external rotation.

This concept of structural balance is an article in itself, so if you follow this link you will find a far more detailed examination of the issue, with heavy influences from Mr Structural & Muscular Balance himself, Charles Poliquin, on the main Ultimate Performance website.

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