Biceps, Pectorals, Quadriceps, and Latissimus Dorsi are just a few of the most popular muscles when it comes to exercise. Bench press, bicep curls, and squats are a few of the common exercises that build strength in those muscles. These muscles are known as ‘movers.’ However, despite their popularity none of these muscles are the most important when it comes to overall fitness. That distinction falls to the other type of muscles: stabilizer muscles. What exactly are stabilizer muscles, and why are they important?
In short stabilizer muscles are smaller, less glamorous muscles, whose main job is to hold your body in proper alignment. They are particularly important around joints like the ankle, knee, hip, and shoulder. Strong stabilizers mean decreased pain and a lower risk of injury. When you have weakened stabilizer muscles it leads to imbalances and increased difficulty in performing activities of daily life. Weak stabilizers can also put undue strain of tendons, ligaments, and joints, leading to far greater physical issues.
Examples of stabilizer muscles include: erector spinae, obliques, glute medius, and rotator cuff muscles. One needs stability before attempting to strengthen. Weak rotator cuffs will wreak havoc on rows and presses. Weak glute medius will adversely affect squat patterning. Focusing on those stabilizers can lead to gains in strength, not to mention proper posture and body alignment.
We here at Mind Body Spine and Cape Kettlebell take pride in focusing on stability and corrective exercise in addition to traditional strength training. These specific exercises focus on the stabilizers through controlled movement and attention to proper form. Strengthening stabilizer muscles have a far greater impact on daily activities, especially as we age. Proper posture and biomechanical movement are both important at any age, but grow in importance the older we get.
If you think you might be in need of strengthening your stabilizer muscles, it is important to check with your primary care physician first. This is to make sure that any pain is not structural. Once that hurdle is cleared give us a call, email, or stop by. We would love to help in any way we can!
by Christopher Setterlund