Injuries can affect even the fittest humans. More often than not, these aches and pains aren't the result of one mistake (like rolling an ankle), but from overuse (like runner's knee) or habitual behaviors that leave your body out of whack. Because all your muscles work together to help you run, jump, cycle, swim, and lift efficiently, having an imbalance of strength can affect your body all over: "Everything in our body is connected," says trainer Anna Victoria, creator of the Fit Body Guides, who came up with this list of essential moves.
Keeping your body in ~balance~ can help prevent injuries and keep your body well-oiled and ready to tackle any workout that comes your way. Check out these four super-common body imbalances below, and try Anna's moves to resolve any issues. (Like what you see? Try Anna Victoria's fat-burning circuit workout next.)
Total Time: up to 15 minutes
1. Rounded Shoulders: Dumbbell Rows & Chest Stretch
20 reps // 20 second hold
This imbalance often comes from spending too much time sitting or on the computer with poor posture. To correct this imbalance, you want to work on strengthening your back muscles and also by stretching out your chest.
4. Sway Back: Side Bend & Cat-Cow
Side Bend + Pause
20 reps // 20 reps
This imbalance usually comes with having rounded shoulders, because they cause your back to hunch over. (This is another reason to stand up from your computer/desk periodically to get your body moving.) To correct sway back, you want to focus on improving flexibility and mobility of your thoracic spine, which is your middle to upper back.
Start in tabletop position on all fours, hands directly under shoulders and knees under hips with toes untucked. Inhale, lifting the tailbone and crown of head to arch back, looking up.
Exhale and tuck chin and drop tailbone, rounding spine.
7. Anterior Pelvic Tilt: Glute Bridge & Hip Flexor Stretch
Glute Bridge with Leg Raise Hold
Hip Flexor Stretch
10 per side // 20 second hold
This imbalance is caused by tilting your hips back excessively. Imagine you're trying to push your butt out when you pose in a picture (we all do it!). But over time, this can create stress on your hips, weak hamstrings, and a tight lower back, which even affects your shoulders. An anterior pelvic tilt can also happen as a result of prolonged sitting, which shortens hip flexor muscles, pulling the pelvis downward.
8. Glute Bridge with Leg Raise Hold
Lie faceup with feet flat on the floor, knees pointing toward the ceiling. Press into feet to raise hips, forming a straight diagonal line from knees to shoulders. Holding this position, extend the right leg. Hold for 1 second.
Lower right leg, then repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating.
10 per side
9. Hip Flexor Stretch
Start kneeling on the right knee, with the left foot planted and knee at a 90-degree angle. Raise right arm overhead.
Shift hips forward slightly. Hold for 20 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.
10. Posterior Pelvic Tilt: Superman & Lying Glute Stretch
Lying Glute Stretch
20 reps // 10 second hold
This imbalance is the opposite of the anterior pelvic tilt. Imagine you're trying to tuck your butt in and push your hips forward. If you hold this for too long or this is your normal stance, it can cause stress on your hips, back, and even your shoulders. A rounded lower back can develop into disc bulges, nerve issues, and muscular pain. You may be encouraging a posterior pelvic tilt by sitting with incorrect posture (rounding your back, which forces the hips to tuck under), or even in the gym if you're performing squats and your hips tuck under at the bottom of your squat.
Lie facedown on the floor with arms and legs outstretched. Engage back, glutes, and hamstrings to lift arms and legs a few inches off the floor. Keep head in a neutral position, looking down at the floor. Hold for 1 second, then slowly lower back to starting position.
12. Lying Glute Stretch
Lie faceup with feet flat on the floor, knees pointing toward the ceiling. Cross left ankle over right thigh, flexing foot. Lift right leg off the foor, grabbing right knee to draw legs toward chest. Hold for 10 seconds.
Slowly lower legs back to starting position, then repeat on the opposite side.