It is easy to fall into a pattern with your exercise routine, but does it leave out certain muscle groups? Many of us tend to focus on the major muscles, such as the quadriceps or the biceps, but neglect supporting muscles. Have you ever heard of your multifidus? How about your psoas? Strengthening these muscles is important for movement, coordination and balance whether you’re an athlete or not. And, they can help you prevent potential injuries.
Muscle Strengthening Exercises
Duane Mueller, a certified athletic trainer and performance enhancement specialist, at the Froedtert & MCW Sports Medicine Center shares tips to strengthen some of the most important, but easily forgotten muscles. “Consider whether your training program balances anterior and posterior chain movement,” Mueller said. “If your training is overly dominant in one plane, you put yourself at risk for injury.”
Upper Back Muscles
The rhomboid major and rhomboid minor muscles are in the upper back, between the shoulder blades. They connect to the scapula and the spinal column and help pull the shoulder blades together. Rhomboid strength is used for any overhead movement or throwing motion. If the rhomboids are weak or injured, a person might experience chronic back pain.
“If you strengthen your shoulders and pectoral muscles but you don’t balance that by strengthening your rhomboids, you risk impingement in your shoulder,” Mueller said.
Exercises: Bent over or seated rows
Spinal Column Muscles
The multifidus is a muscle that extends the length of the spinal column and helps to stabilizes joints in the spine. “Research shows that multifidus atrophy is common in people with deep low back pain,” Mueller said. “Activating your multifidus is one of the most important things you can do to maintain a healthy back.”
Exercises: Supermans, back extensions
3. Serratus Anterior
Middle Back Muscles
The serratus anterior is a muscle group in your middle back, on top of the upper ribs. These muscles are activated when you inhale. They draw the shoulders blades away from each other. They are also responsible for the rotation of the arms. Restriction in the serratus anterior can lead to shoulder pain, neck pain and back problems.
“If you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk with bad posture that can lead to a weak serratus anterior,” said Mueller.
Exercises: Serratus punches, push-up plus
4. Gluteus Medius
Most of us focus on training our gluteus maximus, which is responsible for a lifted, toned look in the buttocks. The gluteus medius is a muscle on the lateral side of your glute near your hip. If it is weak, it can affect hip, knee and low-back function. If you squat and your knees turn inward, you may have a weak gluteus medius.
“Often, we see runners with weak gluteus medius muscles,” Mueller said. “They train by moving their bodies forward, in one plan of motion, often neglecting lateral and rotational strengthening.”
Exercises: Curtsey lunges, bent knee side steps (with or without a band), bent knee side plank with hip abduction
5. Psoas Major
The psoas major muscle is commonly considered the hip flexor muscle. It connects your torso to your legs and is the deepest muscle in your core. The strength of your psoas will impact your posture as well as the stability of your spine.
“The psoas lifts your thighs toward your torso,” Mueller said. “It plays an important role in walking, running or climbing stairs. A tight psoas can reduce the length of your stride.”
Exercises: Straight leg raise, standing hip flexion
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