NOW IS THE TIME TO FIND AND FIX ASYMMETRIES Ashley Mateo asks, “How Symmetrical Are You?” in an article for Runnersworld.com and provides 6 moves to functionally test this physical quality. In a related linked article, “Six Moves to Improve Symmetry”, she provides 6 exercises to help fix problems that may have been identified. A third article explains asymmetry and why correcting issues in this area are important to running efficiency for top performance and, most importantly, to avoiding injury.
One of the experts quoted in the third article, Lance Walker at Michael Johnson Performance training centers, discusses how not correcting inequalities “in strength, stability, mobility, flexibility, and balance means asymmetries are just going to expose themselves at the worst possible time, leading to less than optimum performance”. Under “extreme circumstances”, like a long-distance endurance race, problems will surface. To some this could be a slower-than-hoped-for time. For others, asymmetries can manifest as pain even before the race, especially in the later stages of a training plan when weekly miles increase and speed workouts are scheduled. I’m speaking from personal experience in this regard. Pain and injury arising from asymmetries have prevented my participation in running events at several times throughout my running career.
I know this because the moves in the tests have been used to diagnose my problems. And the exercises, or others very similar to them, have been prescribed by physical therapists at these times. Hard work and perseverance was required to heal and resume running. I resolved each time to maintain ‘symmetry’, or as close as I was able to get to this state of perfection. Eventually in each injury–rehab cycle my attention to this kind of work dropped off. It was, and still is, more satisfying mentally and physically to work at exercises that I do well, than those that are difficult because they address deficiencies.
I read this string of articles with a bit of dread. Then more dread as I prepared to test myself. The results weren’t completely horrible. But I do have weaknesses and asymmetries that require attention. The focused work I’ve done on strength lately has helped. That feels good. From experience, I know that although it’s difficult and time consuming to correct deficiencies, spending 2-3 weeks on the recommended exercises and my old PT regimen should result in some progress. Enough progress to inspire continued and concentrated work. Winter is a good time for indoor rehabilitation. Soon enough softer spring weather will present an irresistible lure to enjoy exercise outdoors.
That’s the message I hope you receive in this post. Now, not later, is a great time for a reality check. Test yourself for symmetry then do the work to correct problems. Before the important race, before your training plan gets tough. If you cannot perform the move at all, don’t be discouraged. I’ve been there, and likely so have many others.
You may need to cycle through this process every so often, but you’ll have company. None of us is perfectly symmetrical. The third article, “How Symmetry Can Make You a Better Runner” indicates that runners in particular are prone to injury, and “a lot of that has to do with not properly fixing muscular imbalances.”
Mateo has helpfully lined up a test, the fix, and an explanation of the problem.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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