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Fixing Spinal Erector Imbalance

For the first time this week I’ve enjoyed the company of a training partner.

During our workout she noticed an imbalance in my spinal erectors. The left side, at a height just above the hip bone, is noticeably smaller than the right.

Since she pointed this out, I can reach around with both hands to feel both sides at once and the right does seem larger, and firmer than the left, by a good amount.

The only advice I can find is to do deads and good mornings, but as they’ve been a part of my programs for quite a while, I wondered if anyone can offer further opinion on how to develop the left a little more.

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Single-leg deadlifts and squats?

[quote]AlteredState wrote:
Ta-da! Welcome to my world, lol.

My righ ES (erector spinae) is larger and firmer than my right (as commented on by any chiro I’ve ever visited with a pair of eyes and the inclination to be bothered to check).

I struggled to correct the imbalance at the back, but really, I don’t see how its possible, seeing as the ES muscles are so close together and their function so intertwined with each other, that they tend to fire together during any back extension exercises.

So I questioned what might cause the imbalance in the first place and came to the realisation that (in me at least) it is a weakness/imbalance in my anterior core muscles (specifically a small area of my int or ext - I think int. - obliques) on the left lower side.

If I kneel and do vacuums, I can actually feel an area of my obliques that won’t fire up correctly. It seems to be slightly ‘dead’ in terms of nervous recruitment. It’s only a small (few sq cm) area and doesn’t seem to affect gross strength in my anterior chain, but I would guess that during sub-maximal activities of daily living, there is a functional weakness that is compensated for by my hypertrophied right ES.[/quote]

Well, I’m glad to hear another story with the same area of concern. Always good to have company on these weird things.

It is hard to understand how it could happen considering the closeness of the muscles.

I was hoping it would be some kind of imbalance or underdevelopment in an associated area.

I do some single leg work already, is more than answer?

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I have the same thing. My left erector is vastly larger than my right, almost to the point of looking freakish.

As far as correcting it I did spend some time trying with single limb lifts and trying to focus on recruiting the right side with not much luck.

I think I know how it developed for me, shoveling, growing up in heavy new england winters and constantly shoveling developed a bias towards the left.

I move compost using the opposite direction, but the right one is so weak it gets tired easily.

[quote]AlteredState wrote:
Out of interest, why are you concerned about the size difference? Is it purely aesthetic, or is there a biomechanical dysfunction that leads to back pain for example, as there is in myself?

For me, the hypertrohied right ES places a strain on my left QL (quadratus lumborum) which is firing up to try and preform some of the work of the weaker left ES.[/quote]

I’m leaping to conclusions I guess.

I’ve had some niggling pain in my left hip area for a few weeks and when the trainer mentioned she could see the imbalance of the less developed left ES, I joined the dots.

Perhaps inappropriately?

I’m certainly not concerned with the visual aspect of it, however if it is causing the hip pain or if it is hindering my squat and deadlift progress, then I would like to address it if possible.

The other concern is that this weakness could cause serious injury under the stress of squats & deads.

Thanks for you help Altered - much appreciated!


Thanks for the great post! I think I’ve been dealing with the same issue. Within the past 9 months, I’ve been dealing with some hip/back pain on both sides. After doing my homework, I started a regimen that involved aggressive soft tissue work, mobility/activation work, and single leg stuff. Needless to say, my condition improved pretty well. The pain in my right hip is completely gone. However there still is a nagging ache on my left side.

After going to a sports therapist, she determined that the resting tone of my left QL was appreciateably bigger than my right. She also said my hip were a little rotated. I started to think that maybe my QL was compensating for weakness somewhere else. I just wasn’t sure what.

If you wouldn’t mind, what are you doing to help resolve your issue? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

I was doing rack pulls after an acl reconstruction surgery and pulled my right QL doing a supramaximal lift from the knee. I prepared to lift and when i pulled, all of a sudden my QL just seized up in pain. Even two to three weeks later it is still different looking than the left side, being kind of lumpy and inflamed. I am not sure if its compensation from the left knee injury or the mixed grip deadlift work, but the pain has subsided even though the physical appearance is still lopsided.

Based on what you guys have said - is this any good?


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This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


I’ve taken care of most of my scar tissue adhesions. I double checked both the gluteus medius and min and checked out fine. I’ve also incorporated X-band walks for gluteus medius activation.

I don’t know if this is related but when I sit down, it feels like I am leaning more onto my left side. I also feel a little “ache” in my right glute/hamstring area.

Pain is the most noticeable in the morning. When I rests my hands on my knees and exhale, letting my hip drop a little I feel discomfort in the left hip/lower back area.


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[quote]AlteredState wrote:

Wherabouts in ‘the hip area’ is your pain located. If you could upload an anatomical diagram which you have highlighted (in MS paint), that would be very helpful.[/quote]

Altered - this is about as close as I can get with a view of the pain area. It’s not bad pain, just a dull ache, especially when sitting but also during training.

Feeling from my hip bone on the side, it’s about half way between that and my spine, still on the hip bone it seems.

make sense?

And the image that looks more like me (just for giggles) :slight_smile:

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hey duke, i have pain very close to that area(although mine might be a little higher up and further away from the spine, im not sure it hasnt acted up in 2 days now :slight_smile: ) which stemed from a deadlifting injury in the winter.

Id give you advice if i could but im still battling the prob myself, So far ART has been helping the really bad tissue pain i sometimes have to deal with at work.