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Old 02-04-2008, 07:03 AM   #1
Matthew Edwards
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Erector Spinae Imbalance - Exercises?

Hi all,

In another thread about back pain a few weeks ago, I received some suggestions to look into trigger point therapy. I did that this past weekend and will continue to go back as this is one of the first people that has really been able to find the source of alot of my back pain.

I have trigger points in the QL and a ton in the trapezius, but in his opinion, the root of all evil in my back is an imbalance in my erector spinae. He said that in just looking at my back will laying on my stomach, the erector on the left was normal, not too tight, while the one on the right was so tight that it appeared to be .5-1 inch lower than the left (i.e., if you were looking at it from the side or down the length of my back so that you could see the muscle belly's height. He also said that the right one was significantly thicker (width) than the left.

After discussing this for a few minutes, we agreed that this was due to many years of high level competitive tennis where that right side was continually used. The hypertonic nature of the ES on that side is wreaking havoc with other muscles both above and below it and is pulling every thing out of whack. The muscle doesn't really hurt at all, just everything else near it, heh.

Anyway, does anyone know of exercises I can do to work more on that left ES? I know that I have alot of imbalances in my body from all those years of one-sided athletics. My right shoulder is bigger, if you look at my biceps the right one is slightly longer from years of being stretched out during serves etc. Left leg is also slightly bigger from pushing off on the serve. Right lat is also bigger, but the main thing throwing stuff off for now is the ES. Any thoughts on a way to help strengthen the left one? I don't even know if that is possible...maybe I should play left-handed tennis for a few years.
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Old 02-04-2008, 09:36 AM   #2
Steven Low
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Re: Erector Spinae Imbalance - Exercises?

I have a similar problem too. I had a slip in one of my vertebral disks (didn't hurt) for probably quite some time so the left side is much stronger and more hypertrophied than the right side. After it got fixed, right side sits about .5 inches lower than the left.

Tried a bunch of different stuff including unilateral work which didn't work. Basically right now just trying to correct movement patterns. You should see differences if one side is stronger & lowered than the other in your squat and deadlift (which happens to me) so basically fixing it constantly in a mirror until you get the right one is helping out slowly (but I can't squat with weight to start to correct because my knee is hurt ATM). This is how I'm approaching it so far.. but unfortunately there's no easy answer.
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Old 02-04-2008, 08:02 PM   #3
Lenora Galitz-Pfeffer
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Re: Erector Spinae Imbalance - Exercises?

Steven this is more your expertise, but, are lunges any help with this? It is somewhat unilateral. I realize you are working both sides, but, it seems it would balance out. If I'm way off base you can say so. I could use the education.
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Old 02-04-2008, 08:30 PM   #4
Steven Low
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Re: Erector Spinae Imbalance - Exercises?

Yeah, I have been using those in my rehab as well. They're good for my knee though... but they don't really have much of an impact unless I can weight them... and obviously I haven't really been able to do any weighted work.
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Old 02-04-2008, 08:41 PM   #5
Lenora Galitz-Pfeffer
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Re: Erector Spinae Imbalance - Exercises?

Do you remember the "Negative Eccentuated" workouts of years ago? It has a unilateral piece to it in the negatives. One would have to be creative. I wouldn't try it on troubled knees right now, but, bw squats 2 legs up, alternating legs down. It could be done with pullups, pushups, body rows. I'm just thinking enough to get in trouble.
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Old 02-22-2008, 08:03 AM   #6
Matthew Edwards
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Re: Erector Spinae Imbalance - Exercises?

Just wanted to give a bit of an update on this. Went back for a second session last night and we found that the root of my low back pain problems really is just the erector. The QL, psoas etc are all fine. But the lower part of the right erector is quite painful and tight, so we will be focusing therapy on that area. I encourage anyone with back pain to see someone that does msucle related therapy and not a chiro. Chrio appts do feel good, but the reason the spine is out of whack in the first place is the muscles pulling it out. Both therapies have their place, of course.

Also, Stephen, I have been paying attention as you said to not letting that stronger side be lower. The issue I have though is the exact opposite, heh. The stronger side in my back is the same side as the weaker leg. I again trace this to years of high level tennis where the upper body was alot of right-side work, but serving was pushing off with the left leg. There is a clear imbalance between my upper quads and hips with the left side being larger and stronger. I can feel myself shifting sometimes to the the left when pushing out of the hole and using that left leg more. Trying to consciously correct that. 3 more weeks of SS workouts and then I am taking a break for a week then going back to CF for a month to see if my strength levels have improved there.

Just hope the back hangs on.
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Old 02-22-2008, 03:20 PM   #7
Steven Low
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Re: Erector Spinae Imbalance - Exercises?

No, I have the same problem.

My left ankle got injured previously. My left leg is weaker than my right (mostly in hams and glutes... left quad is pretty strong). Left lower back is strong (compensating for the weak left glute and hamstring). Right glute and hams are strong which leaves right lower back weak.

If you've ever had an ankle injury check out this article on t-nation about it.. pretty interesting. Maybe wfs.
http://www.t-nation.com/article/most...ble_ankles&cr=
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