There Is No I In Team – Team Work Doesn’t Help Everything

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Are you lopsided? No one is perfectly symmetrical, that’s the beauty of nature. Most people have a dominant side, but some of us are more out of balance than others. In our everyday lives, we carry all kinds of things around – usually on our “favorite” side.

Every time I head to work or go out with The Kid, it’s like a troop movement with me as the pack mule. I have my purse, my laptop bag, my lunchbox, my gym bag, and anything else The Kid refuses to carry. All sitting on my right shoulder. I’ve seen other people loaded up too as well as people with their head and shoulders twisted around a phone.

I knew about my bad posture but I had no idea just how much carrying stuff around could impact imbalances! It wasn’t until I had a progress picture taken of my back last September that I saw a clear curve in my spine that should NOT be there. S in your spine does not stand for sweet! I was crooked and it really bothered me even though no one looked at me in horror and pointed it out.

I did a ton of research on imbalances and I’ve been on a mission since March to fix my Quasimodo-like issues. Unilateral exercises have been key. Uni means one and lateral means side – one sided. When you use a barbell or a gym machine, your muscles work as a team to lift the weight. The strong side compensates for the weaker side and you work like a well oiled machine. Isn’t that cool how your body operates?

Unfortunately team work is not good in this case and it doesn’t do much to fix lopsidedness. Using dumbbells, cable machines, and performing one arm/one leg exercises, forces each side to work independently. The only thing your left arm can do for the dumbbell in your right hand is wave at it. Because your weaker muscles get no help from the stronger muscles, they’re forced to get their act together and improve.

Instead of relying solely on barbells to heave weights, I’ve changed to 90% dumbbells and cables during my workouts as well as included one day a week of purely functional movements. I’ve had to go lighter on some of the weights since my hands can’t always hold a ton for extended periods but I’ve made sure my form is perfect and my rep speed is slow to keep the muscles under tension. I still incorporate some barbell work like deadlifts and squats but not in the majority of exercises like I used to.

I took an updated progress picture last night and there’s definitely a difference in my back curve. The S is turning into an I slowly but surely! It’s not a complete I yet but I’ll get there. Can you see the difference? I’ve also been working hard on my posture throughout the day when standing to make sure I’m not hunching forward or to one side. You’ve probably seen my random posture checks on Facebook and Twitter and now you know why.

Back Comparison

I’m definitely rocking the V-taper by the way. Just sayin’. 😉 If you carry a bunch of stuff on one side or do one sided sports like tennis or golf frequently, have someone take a picture of your back to see if you’ve got issues. Even if you don’t, unilateral exercises can be great for building up a weaker side and improving your game. No mo’ Quasimodo! Make that your motto. 😉

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