T Nation

Uneven Back Muscularity

So last night while looking in the mirror I noticed that my lower back muscles are uneven. It appears the muscle that runs along the spine(erectors?)from mid back down to lower is bigger and thicker on my right side than my left. I was told I have a slight case of scoliosis a couple years ago, but nothing major.

Is there anything I can do to isolate the left side and bring it up to par? I’m not sure how this even happened, but not really too enthused about it.

My wife points out that one of my spinal erectors is much larger. I assume I favor one leg while squatting and deadlifting, and so the other side gets more load and grows more.

I have tried one-armed deadlifts on the smaller side to bring it up to par.

Ok yeah I notice that the same. When I squat my right leg usually takes more of the load and it might happen for deadlifts as well.

I think I’ll try the one-armed DLs, but does anyone think that doing weighted back extensions might also help? Usually whenever I do anything that works the lower back(squats, dls, etc…) my right side always tightens up quicker because I guess it’s taking more of the load. I did some extensions today and got my left side pumped and it felt pretty good, but not sure if this would also help solve the uneven muscularity.

Anyone else with a similar experience?

Yeah, I have the same deal. I’ve yet to hear of a solution for it.

You ever try the one-armed DLs as was stated above?

I do too except its in my upper back. My front lat spread isn’t symmetrical. I have yet to fix it.

My younger brother was a baseball pitcher and his lower back development is equally asymetrical. Of course, his situation is obviously caused by the constant wind-up and strain of what is essentially a unilateral motion (or at least mostly unilateral, you get what I mean).

Do you participate in any sports or activites that might stress one side unevenly?

S

I was heavily into martial arts for 6 years. Kept up with it for the first two years of college, but then slacked off these past two years.

I doubt that has had any affect on me, though.

I played football as a little kid and up until high school…but again…doubt that did anything.

Hmnnn I guess you could some sort of angled hyperextension so that you could stress one side more than the other (maybe?! -lol)

Usually I would think that doing everything bilaterally would eventually even even things out, but it sounds like you’ve been doing that so far… I’m as puzzled as you are.

S

I have a ton of problems with asymmetry due to having thrown shot put in high school. I have yet to fix it. I’ve tried doing extra unilateral work, but It doesn’t seem to bring the weaker/smaller side up to par.

My physical therapist noticed that the right side of my back is much tighter than my left. He wasn’t sure why…maybe is part of the problem. Also I think another part of it is as Tshaw mentioned in that I sometimes favor my right side when squatting…maybe deadlifting as well. Every time I squat I do notice that my right leg, for whatever reason, sometimes takes a good amount of the load.

Stretching, working on form, and perhaps better balance of load will help.

We will see in the months to come.

Hmnn I think the problems Ronnie COleman had with his back was that the nerve impulses weren’t getting to the specific areas of his lats, so the area on one side appeared to have atrophied.

I guess this could be a possibility…?

S

That sounds like there’s no real solution to that…I don’t think that’s my case, at least I hope not. Lol.

Sir, I think there are a couple of reasons something like this may be happening. One is since I imagine you’re right handed, the right side of your body is probably the dominant side. It probably takes over a little more in bilateral movements like you said.

So I think some unilateral lower-body movements are especially beneficial to you. Strength imbalances between limbs can eventually lead to injury, and in your case differences in muscle size.

Your “right side” muscles are probably much tighter as well since they’re used to doing so much work. When you lift, take the time to really work on the mind-muscle connection to your left side. Concentrate on making sure your left side is taking on the load too.

Take a look at joint mobility as well. Things like internal/external hip rotation and or uneven hamstring length from left to right may be causing a postural issue when you lift. For example, if your pelvis is being pulled to one side by tight TFL/Rectus Femoris/Hamstrings then you’ll be lifting a little skewed and one side will end up with a greater load.

So take home points are:

-Check left/right flexibility and mobility (hips, hamstrings, spinal erectors, quads, etc, even calves) and work to restore them to equal

-Concentrate on building neural drive to your left side since it’s not your dominant side

Video tape some lifting sessions so you can get a different angle and see if you notice anything unequal.

My left trap is bigger than my right. It’s funny because when I wear a tank top/wifebeater, the right side slides down further down closer to the shoulder than the left, which “sits” better up on the trap. Funny.