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  • Asymmetrical (in)flexibility

    The other day I started exploring a new-to-me phase in my quest for improved fitness: flexibility. Up until now I've been primarily concerned with improving strength and endurance through a variety of bodyweight (+weight vest recently) exercises.

    The main thing that has jumped out at me so far -- besides my woeful inflexibility -- is that the left side of my body is significantly tighter and less flexible than the right. Particularly in the calf and hamstring. When I do a stretch on the right side, then repeat the same stretch on the left side, it's quite obvious that the left side has a reduced ROM and reduced threshold of discomfort by comparison.

    I don't think this is necessarily indicative of a major problem, and I assume things will even out over time. But I am curious if anyone has ideas on how this sort of imbalance can occur, or if anyone else has noticed this sort of imbalance. I can't think of any activities in my daily life that would tend to favor one side over the other to any significant degree.

  • #2
    I'm the same way. Left hip is much tighter than the right hip. I'd assume the body is compensating for some other problem, either trigger points on that side, or a biomechanical problem in how I walk has created it.

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    • #3
      Most flexibility issues of this nature can be sorted with corrections to the ROM of your exercise choices. What exercises are you currently doing?

      Flexibility does not necessarily need to be a separate component of fitness.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by Coach Palfrey View Post
        Most flexibility issues of this nature can be sorted with corrections to the ROM of your exercise choices. What exercises are you currently doing?

        Flexibility does not necessarily need to be a separate component of fitness.
        Hey Coach P. My bread & butter (as it were) exercises mostly follow from the SimpleFit bodyweight program: pullups (various grips), pushups, and squats. Currently I'm pursuing a modified SimpleFit program in which I progressively increase the weight in a vest/backpack that I wear during the exercises. This week I'm up to 31lbs/14kg, and I'll probably stop adding weight when I reach 1/3 my bodyweight (50lbs/~23kg). For squats I also hold weight out in front of me in my hands to counterbalance the weight of the backpack. Right now I'm holding 17lbs/~8kg.

        I endeavor to achieve a good ROM in all my exercises. For pullups, I start at deadhang and bring myself as far above the bar as possible. For pushups, I frequently use pushup-bars to achieve greater ROM on the descent. For squats I go as low as I can, which is well below the point where my thighs are parallel to the ground.

        Recently I've been practicing pistol squats, which is where my hamstring inflexibility (and upper quad weakness, I suppose) started to become quite noticeable. See my other thread about that here. Other exercises that I do (or are working up to) which are limited by my flexibility at this point include L-sits and hanging/pullup L-sits, handstands/handstand pushups, planches/planche pushups. Besides lacking sufficient strength, I think it's mostly inflexibility in my wrists and hamstrings that will hold me back with these. I would also like to be able to kick higher than my head, for no particular reason.
        Last edited by The Big L; 04-06-2011, 05:13 PM.

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        • #5
          Can you find a tai chi class in your area? I've found tai chi is awesome for building strength and flexibility.

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          • #6
            perfectly normal. been doing yoga my whole life and i'm more flexible on me left in some areas, and more flexible on my right in others, and more flexible with forward bends than back and so on and so forth.

            just keep working your flexibility in methods that work both sides and don't worry about it too much.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by The Big L View Post
              Hey Coach P. My bread & butter (as it were) exercises mostly follow from the SimpleFit bodyweight program: pullups (various grips), pushups, and squats. Currently I'm pursuing a modified SimpleFit program in which I progressively increase the weight in a vest/backpack that I wear during the exercises. This week I'm up to 31lbs/14kg, and I'll probably stop adding weight when I reach 1/3 my bodyweight (50lbs/~23kg). For squats I also hold weight out in front of me in my hands to counterbalance the weight of the backpack. Right now I'm holding 17lbs/~8kg.

              I endeavor to achieve a good ROM in all my exercises. For pullups, I start at deadhang and bring myself as far above the bar as possible. For pushups, I frequently use pushup-bars to achieve greater ROM on the descent. For squats I go as low as I can, which is well below the point where my thighs are parallel to the ground.

              Recently I've been practicing pistol squats, which is where my hamstring inflexibility (and upper quad weakness, I suppose) started to become quite noticeable. See my other thread about that here. Other exercises that I do (or are working up to) which are limited by my flexibility at this point include L-sits and hanging/pullup L-sits, handstands/handstand pushups, planches/planche pushups. Besides lacking sufficient strength, I think it's mostly inflexibility in my wrists and hamstrings that will hold me back with these. I would also like to be able to kick higher than my head, for no particular reason.
              It's good that you are paying attention to ROM. Perhaps you could also try supplementing with some unilateral work - walking lunges, step ups etc. These would help to re-address the balance. Adding in some OH squats would be nice too.

              But, as has been said, this is pretty normal. Just add in the uni-lateral work and keep a close eye on ROM.
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              • #8
                I noticed this too. When I first went to a Yoga class I couldn't believe how lopsided I was! I think it's a subtle thing to do with handedness, probably - we tend to carry weight with our non-master hand (I think, well, I do, because I use the master hand to put the key in the lock or hang the washing or whatever), sit with the master hand on the mouse, etc etc. If I have to jump a puddle, it'll always be my right foot first. I think those small daily things add up.

                I also sleep mostly on my back or my right side, rarely my left. So there's bound to be a few things there.
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