Working the side of the body is very important to maintain overall strength and balance. Most of our daily activities involve the front/back motions, such as walking, running, bending forward, lifting things, etc.
How often do we walk sideway? Never! I have seen athletic clients whom seem very strong, but when I ask to perform side work, they don’t seem strong at all. So what are on the side of the body that we often neglect? This is not an anatomy lesson, so I am only listing the two most important muscles so you can easily relate. From top down, they are the lateral flexors (obliques, locate on the sides connecting the ribcage and the hips), gluteus medius (one of the abductors, locate on the sides of your hips).
This muscles are super important for your balance. Most of us are stronger on one side of the body because we either left-handed or right-handed. We perform our daily activities favoring the same side.
Pilates method can help you realize your imbalance and with regular practice balance can be achieved in a short time. In the short video below I demonstrate a few simple movements you can try at home using a fitness ball. You can start with just 5 repetitions each movement, focusing on good form, then increase the repetitions as you get stronger. Perform all the movements on one side then switch to the second side. Do one or two more repetitions on the weaker side. I know it’s easy say than do. But that’s how we fix the imbalance. Push yourself do just one or two more repetitions on the side that you find it’s harder to do and in just a few weeks you will not notice the difference. Trust me!
Here’s the list of the movements:
- Lift & lower top leg
- Leg circle
- Leg circle, reversed direction
- Side bend
- During the first 3 movements, keep shoulders stabilized, core engaged. So only the one leg moves and the rest stay quiet.
- During side bend: the most difficult part of this one is when leaning away from the long leg. It’s NOT ‘flexing side to side’ motion. It’s leaning away from the long leg and then lateral flexing over the long leg. Keep arms extended and aim head toward the ball throughout the movement. Pressing the foot firmly down on the floor should help when leaning the torso away form the long leg and think of creating a straight line from the ball to the toes.