Is the way you sit everyday leading to muscular imbalances?
Cross your legs. Now uncross and re-cross your legs.
Now if you’re sitting in a chair, sit on the floor and cross your legs. Or if you’re sitting on the floor, sit in a chair and cross your legs.
I bet that each time, without even thinking, you crossed your legs the exact same way. Try (both in a chair and on the floor) crossing your legs the opposite of the way you normally do. It feels weird, doesn’t it?
When I started personal training at William & Mary’s Student Recreation Center (the Rec) with just a few clients, I was convinced that dominant sides for certain activities and skills in people would follow a predictable pattern. People would have one side that was stronger, more stable, and more skilled, and then their other side would be more flexible. That was not the case AT ALL. For example, someone could be great at single leg squats on their right leg but have better balance on their left leg, and be more flexible in their right leg but be better at kicking a soccer ball with their left leg.
People are all over the place, and if you take the time to look at everything a person does in day to day life as well as any activities or sports they do regularly, you can start to figure out why they are dominant at certain things on certain sides, but seeing as I don’t have the time or energy to follow around each of my clients for a couple days before I start training them to figure out all those little intricacies and where they come from, what I’ve learned to focus more on is HABITS. People may have a million different things going on as far as why one arm or leg is dominant at one thing and not another, but what is consistent for each person is their habits. You probably sit the same way most of the day, stand leaning towards one foot more than the other, drive with one foot (or if you drive a manual, each foot at least has a different job than the other), drive with one arm more often than the other, write with one hand, use your phone more in one hand than the other, carry your purse or bookbag on one side more than the other, carry groceries on one arm so that you can unlock and open the door with the other hand, etc.
So rather than me trying to tell you to change your entire day from start to finish by brushing your teeth with the opposite hand, driving with the other hand, writing with the other hand, etc. (not to mention that your teeth probably won’t get very clean, you might crash on the way to work, and if you make it to work in one piece, you might lose your job because no one can read your handwriting), I want you to focus on one simple habit that can make a big difference in imbalances in hip flexibility that can move down the chain into knee and ankle problems or up the chain into back and shoulder pain, imbalances, and tightness.
It doesn’t have to be all the time, but just for part of the time, when you’re sitting at your desk or on the floor to play with the dog or sitting to watch TV, try crossing your legs the opposite of the way you normally would. Over time, this uncomfortable little change can help to even out the differences in flexibility between your right and left hip and perhaps even help to alleviate some pain that you may be feeling in the hips or elsewhere because of this imbalance. At the very least, it avoids contributing more to the imbalances you already have.
Try it out, and let me know if you have any questions about imbalances when recovering from an injury, how to know if you have imbalances, or how to train to even out imbalances.