T Nation

Squats and Muscle Imbalance


#1

I'm not sure if it's a muscle imbalance, but I'm almost sure it is.

Everytime I squat, my right foot wants to pivot to the right (away from my body). It doesn't matter if its with light weight or heavy weight. Also, to feel "balanced", my right foot needs to be a little back farther than my left foot.

I tried stretching and warming up, but it still doesn't seem to help.

Has anyone experienced this or something like this? Any thoughts on what to do?


#2

Look very closely at photos of top OLers. Most of them have a slightly assymetrical stance. Also when they are in the deep squat position of either a clean or a snatch, 1 knee will actually be higher than the other. Unless it's really pronounced, I wouldn't worry too much about it.

TNT


#3

Thanks for the advice.

It just seems that when I do reps of squats, it just feels like something is wrong. I guess I could start doing more one-legged squats, lunges, and doing more calf work and see if any of those are the problem.

I just thought I'd ask before going to a specialist ($$$$$).


#4

Does that mean you're not going to pay me for my advice????????????????

TNT


#5

It's in the mail :slight_smile:


#6

I think you are right. I tend to trust my feelings.


#7

This would be something you want to correct. If one foot is a little further back than the other, this can lead to uneven forces on your back, hips, etc. that can eventually result in a serious imbalance.

The first thing I'd do is check symmetry in flexibility. Perform a number of stretches for hamstrings, glutes, low back, quads, hip flexors, etc with very strict form. If something feels tighter than the other side, it probably is. Don't go nuts right away trying to fix it if this is the case, though, just do a little bit more stretching for the tight side when you stretch. The last thing you want to do is overstretch the tight side (been there, trust me).

Once you've checked that (should take all of 20 minutes), if everything feels pretty even, it probably just is a unilateral weakness.

Hope this helps,

-Dan


#8

Is your body symmetrical. Look at yourself in the mirror. Both legs the same length? Both knees the same height? Is your pelvis horizontal, or tilted towards the left or right?
Is your back straight?

If you're not sure, check with a doctor.


#9

I've asked my doctor about 2 years ago and he didn't see any problem. The problem hasn't gotten worse, but hasn't really gotten better.

When I check the muscles, they look fairly identical. If there is a muscle imbalance, it would have to be in the rear (hamstrings).

Thanks for all the advice, guys. I guess I'll do the stretching and see if one side is tighter than the other and maybe start doing unilateral movements more often.

Again, thanks for the input :slight_smile:


#10

I have problems like this when I squat and OL. In the bottom position, one of my knees is higher than the other. But I know what my problem is. I had knee surgery on my left knee 2 years ago and I'm still trying to get full flexibility back in it. I tend to shift a bit to one side to not flex that knee quite as much. I have to really concentrate to force that knee into the same flexion as the other, which hurts because I'm still breaking up that last bit of scar tissue.

So I suspect that your problem is an ankle, knee, or hip flexibility problem. Like another post said, run yourself through a bunch of stretches one both sides of your body and focus on any uneven tightness.

Its amazing how much progress you can make in flexibility if you just stretch a little bit everyday. You won't even feel like you're pushing your flexibility hard, but you'll improve if you just stick to it every day.


#11

Gotcha. Thanks :slightly_smiling:


#12

I came up with an idea that might help the situation:

If I had someone lay 45 pound plates on the top of my shoes so I couldn't move my feet around right before I squat.

Thoughts/opinions?


#13

Not good IMO, best case it would do Shit it would take a ton of plets to hold my feet in place I think. Worst case you do essetially waht a smith machine does and force yourself into an un-naturl position and possible injury


#14

I see what you mean. I know it really isn't safe, but lets just say I had two spotters and I was even in a cage where safety wasn't an issue. Wouldn't the plates on the feet force the legs to work in a "correct" motion and use the correct muscles?

For an example, say someone is doing skull crushers and they have a tendancy to flare out their elbows alot. If someone is there to hold them in, wouldn't it work the triceps better?

I guess I thought the plates on the feet would be kind of like what I just described with the skull crushers.

BTW, get my email? :slight_smile:


#15

Hi there. I wanted to respond to this as I have had the EXACT same symptoms as you. My right foot always ends up pivoted outward, and slightly behind the rest of the body. I also feel a lot of stress in the entire right hand side - the hip, psoas, hip flexor, glute etc. Often after a hard days squatting, the right side (especially the hip flexor, the top of the right quad and the right hip) feel tight and awkward. Sometimes painfull but mainly just an unnatural stressed feeling.

I also notice when squatting that thr body/torso twists ever so slightly to the right (so if you looked from the side at the bottom of a squat, the right hip is slightly behind the left).

I wanted to sort it out as it was getting to the point of hurting, and I also felt it in the right hand side the day after cardio like running or cycling. First thing I did is went to a podiatrist. Found a lot of imbalance in the feet, including pronation, hip height and shoulder height. As is often the case, everything in the body is linked (in my case the right hand side is 'plagued' all the way from the foot to the hip to the lower back, including ITB syndrome in the right knee).

I got orthotics (in-steps), both for everyday wearing and large ones for gym shoes. At the same time I am getting treatment on my back - and THIS IS WHAT I WANT YOU TO TAKE NOTE OF :slight_smile: - as these imbalances, which I left to go on for way too long, caused a lower back injury. In particular, inflammation of a lower vertebrae/disc. That is what was causing a lot of the associated pain in the hip, hip flexor, buttock etc. I am also self-treating the hip flexor and other ligaments in that area which have becomes very stressed over time (the area between the top of the quad and the lower abdominal region).

In summary, I would put the neccessary money aside to see a) a podiatrist and b) a chiro. It is well worth it. Don't leave it for too long (as I unfortunately did) as it causes a lot of damage, which cannot be prevented just by stretching/strengthening as it has to do with structure, posture and movement stemming from the feet and back.

Cheers,
X


#16

Thanks xenithon, for all of the information. I really appreciate it. What are you doing to self-treat the hip flexors?

I go to a chiro once in a while that is very good and I'm in and out within minutes.

Again, thanks for all the help :slight_smile:


#17

Hi there. The treatments at the chiro is very short for me too (for the disc inflammation). Normally 15 minutes total made up of ultrasound, some massage and some re-adjustment.

Self treatment: I am awaiting my foam roller from the US to arrive, and currently doing castor-oil treatments.

X


#18

I forgot about the foam roller. I need to go make one. I'll have to look up that oil treatment.

Thanks again :slight_smile:


#19

The exact same thing happens to me. My right leg points out more and isnt as far forward. If i keep both legs exactly even it feels off.