Muscular Imbalance between Chest and Back

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    Muscular Imbalance between Chest and Back


    I play volleyball semi-competetively and have been feeling a pretty sharp pain in my shoulder when I swing a certain way for a couple of years.

    I went to my Physical Therapy today and she said I had tendonitis in my right shoulder. She said the root cause was a muscular imbalance between my chest and back, with my chest being stronger than my back. She said this is common in guys that work out, as they often spend more time on the bench than their back.

    I didn't think I was that guy ....apparently I am. Anyways I have to work on posture, especially when sitting at my desk and prioritize back over chest.

    I'm thinking of maybe running a 2 week cycle of SD and focusing on back in order to catch it up.

    Anyone else think they have a muscular imbalance between their chest and back?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobInKuwait View Post
    Anyone else think they have a muscular imbalance between their chest and back?
    If anything my back is dominant.
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    Quote Originally Posted by B5150 View Post
    If anything my back is dominant.
    I always thought mine was balanced, as I only do one chest movement a week for like 4-5 sets. Meanwhile, I typically do about 12-15 back movements. My chest just grows so much easier for me.
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    Follow-up


    She's probably right. Most people these days have overly developed pectoralis major, minor, anterior deltoid, and very weak and short teres major/minor. When this gets really bad and creates a kyphotic posture, compression syndrome can occur causing constant discomfort in the shoulder joint.

    Look into myofascial release and work on stretching the pectorals on a regular basis. Strengthening your upper back and posterior deltoids is going to be your best option.

    Good luck!

    Quote Originally Posted by RobInKuwait View Post
    I play volleyball semi-competetively and have been feeling a pretty sharp pain in my shoulder when I swing a certain way for a couple of years.

    I went to my Physical Therapy today and she said I had tendonitis in my right shoulder. She said the root cause was a muscular imbalance between my chest and back, with my chest being stronger than my back. She said this is common in guys that work out, as they often spend more time on the bench than their back.

    I didn't think I was that guy ....apparently I am. Anyways I have to work on posture, especially when sitting at my desk and prioritize back over chest.

    I'm thinking of maybe running a 2 week cycle of SD and focusing on back in order to catch it up.

    Anyone else think they have a muscular imbalance between their chest and back?
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    Quote Originally Posted by SynergyCSCS View Post
    She's probably right. Most people these days have overly developed pectoralis major, minor, anterior deltoid, and very weak and short teres major/minor. When this gets really bad and creates a kyphotic posture, compression syndrome can occur causing constant discomfort in the shoulder joint.

    Look into myofascial release and work on stretching the pectorals on a regular basis. Strengthening your upper back and posterior deltoids is going to be your best option.

    Good luck!
    Thanks for the great response. You sound like you know your stuff....are you a Physical Therapist?

    What exercises would you recommend in particular?
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    Thanks! No I'm actually an Exercise Science Coach. I coach individuals through a progression that brings them as high as professional athlete in ability.

    Investigate a Tri-Plane raise... stretches the chest and shoulder complex while strengthening the rhomboids in the middle back. Much like a standing rear delt fly combined with a lateral raise. Also work on bent over rear delt raise and bent over rows. These will improve overall back development and strength to help counter your imbalance.

    Quote Originally Posted by RobInKuwait View Post
    Thanks for the great response. You sound like you know your stuff....are you a Physical Therapist?

    What exercises would you recommend in particular?
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    Quote Originally Posted by SynergyCSCS View Post
    Thanks! No I'm actually an Exercise Science Coach. I coach individuals through a progression that brings them as high as professional athlete in ability.

    Investigate a Tri-Plane raise... stretches the chest and shoulder complex while strengthening the rhomboids in the middle back. Much like a standing rear delt fly combined with a lateral raise. Also work on bent over rear delt raise and bent over rows. These will improve overall back development and strength to help counter your imbalance.
    Thanks Synergy. I wonder how many other people on this site have the same issue as me and don't even know it?
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    A lot I bet.

    Quote Originally Posted by RobInKuwait View Post
    Thanks Synergy. I wonder how many other people on this site have the same issue as me and don't even know it?
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    I did. Not anymore.

    Always funny to see the lerches in the gym so hunched over thinkin they're all bad ass because they bench every day.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rugger View Post
    I did. Not anymore.

    Always funny to see the lerches in the gym so hunched over thinkin they're all bad ass because they bench every day.
    Heh, I never realized how much I was lurching until I spent all day yesterday and today correcting my posture.
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    no ****. There is this one guy in my gym who is so overdeveloped in his delts and chest that it looks ridiculous. It's like he is trying to make his shoulders touch
    Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general. -Rippetoe
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    Quote Originally Posted by B5150 View Post
    If anything my back is dominant.
    I feel you. Mine has always been a genetic blessing even before I worked it. I used to skateboard with my shirt off and I was with my girlfriend, one summer, hanging out with a bunch of friends skateboarding late at night downtown,(I was 16) and she said to me in front of everyone,John don't ever become one of those bodybuilder's because your back will just look nasty , it already is too big. That went into my memory bank. I have never lifted a weight in my life at this time. I don't know if its genetics, or placebo effect from her saying that , or from me wrestling when i was a kid and using my back muscles unconsciously or what ...felt nice when she said that though
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobInKuwait View Post
    Thanks Synergy. I wonder how many other people on this site have the same issue as me and don't even know it?
    I used to be a chest only guy my first six-nine months of lifting. That's all I did. Luckily I had a good back
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    Quote Originally Posted by B5150 View Post
    If anything my back is dominant.
    My buttocks are dominant....

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobInKuwait View Post
    Thanks Synergy. I wonder how many other people on this site have the same issue as me and don't even know it?
    Reading all of what you have said and also Synergy, I realize I have this problem from my office desk job.
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    Quote Originally Posted by neoborn View Post
    Reading all of what you have said and also Synergy, I realize I have this problem from my office desk job.
    Yeah, I think for me its a combination of bad posture, driving often, and sitting at a desk often.

    I started consciously pulling my shoulders back, pushing my shoulder blades down, and lifting my chest up the last few days and it has made a huge difference, especially when doing back exercises such as rows and pull ups. I've also been stretching my chest and shoulders out often and that has helped.
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    Get a look at these exercises:

    Smith Rear Delt Row

    Cable Rear Delt Row

    Lever Rear Delt Row

    Lever Seated High Row

    These types of movements have proven to strengthen and thicken my upper back (girth and width) and posterior deltoid. This inherently promotes better posture as it tends now involuntarily pull my shoulders back and produce better posture.
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    Quote Originally Posted by B5150 View Post
    Get a look at these exercises:

    Smith Rear Delt Row

    Shoulder Exercise Menu

    These types of movements have proven to strengthen and thicken my upper back (girth and width) and posterior deltoid. This inherently promotes better posture as it tends now involuntarily pull my shoulders back and produce better posture.
    Great links B! Didn't know quite a few of these exercises. Should give me more options to catch up those rear delts!
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    No problem.

    Note: I edited my post to identify the specific type of movements that I meant.
    Quote Originally Posted by B5150 View Post
    Get a look at these exercises:

    Smith Rear Delt Row

    Cable Rear Delt Row

    Lever Rear Delt Row

    Lever Seated High Row

    These types of movements have proven to strengthen and thicken my upper back (girth and width) and posterior deltoid. This inherently promotes better posture as it tends now involuntarily pull my shoulders back and produce better posture.
    They have made quite the significant change in my proportion. I am only 5'9" at 200lbs. I try to increase my upper shoulder width and girth as it is really hard for me to get anything like a "V" back as I have a real short torso and anything that thickens my lower back makes me look too square unless of course I am posing in a rear lat spread pose...don't walk around in that pose much of the time.
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    You wanna really freak out... think about all of those sitting positions and the effect they have on your glutes, hips, and hamstrings! Sitting with your legs bent all day causes the hamstrings to tighten in a shortened position causing you to also keep your calves shortened if your feet aren't flat on the ground as well. From them.. your glute medius and piriformis shut off causing you to overwork your hips and low back.

    This in conjuntion with the tight chest from working at your computer keep you from completely developing your abdominals.

    Time for a new job, eh?!

    Quote Originally Posted by RobInKuwait View Post
    Yeah, I think for me its a combination of bad posture, driving often, and sitting at a desk often.

    I started consciously pulling my shoulders back, pushing my shoulder blades down, and lifting my chest up the last few days and it has made a huge difference, especially when doing back exercises such as rows and pull ups. I've also been stretching my chest and shoulders out often and that has helped.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SynergyCSCS View Post
    You wanna really freak out... think about all of those sitting positions and the effect they have on your glutes, hips, and hamstrings! Sitting with your legs bent all day causes the hamstrings to tighten in a shortened position causing you to also keep your calves shortened if your feet aren't flat on the ground as well. From them.. your glute medius and piriformis shut off causing you to overwork your hips and low back.

    This in conjuntion with the tight chest from working at your computer keep you from completely developing your abdominals.

    Time for a new job, eh?!
    Seriously. Probably the root cause of all the back problems everyone gets....
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    I agree with all of this, my calves are crazy tight all the time as well as my Achilles heel.
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    Should all of those excercises be performed on a back day? or shoulder?
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    Personally I train back seperate from shoulders. I incorporate one of those exercises to target my rear delt as part of my delt work. I usually do one of those forms of exercise as a first exercise in my shoulder work as it does incorporate much of the secondary smaller muscles of the upper back.
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