Muscle Imbalances Revealed: Upper Body

A few days back, I mentioned that I was working my way through a new collaborative resource called Muscle Imbalances Revealed: Upper Body (or MIRU for short) from Tony Gentilcore, Jeff Cubos, Dean Somerset and Rick Kaselj.


I was going to wait to write up a review on this as I still have a presentation to watch, but Rick sent me an email yesterday saying that today is the final day of their introductory price. In other words, tomorrow the price jumps $70.

Many of you may recognize the name; MIRU is a follow-up to a lower body system released last year. The lower body system was very well received by the full fitness industry continuum, from fitness enthusiasts to pro sports physical therapists. I’ve gone through both systems now and can say that if you liked the lower body system, you will LOVE the upper body system.

If you train hard yourself and/or work with clients in any performance or rehabilitation setting, muscle imbalances play a role in your success or lack thereof. In other words, muscle imbalances can be a significant contributor to pain and dysfunction, but can also be a less obvious barrier to training progress. I think most people can readily understand how only performing movements in one direction (e.g. only bench pressing in contrast to a more balanced program of pressing and pulling) could lead to imbalances over time. Probably less intuitive is the idea that how we carry ourselves throughout the day also significant contribute to muscle imbalances. Everything is important; not just how you move, but also how you don’t move. How you sleep, how you sit at a desk, how you drive, how you stand, how you walk, and how you long you spend doing each of these will all have a profound impact on your performance. MIRU did a great job of identifying common imbalances that general and more sport-specific populations suffer. More importantly, they outlined an exhaustive list of preventative and corrective strategies to help show you how to train/live your way back into a more balanced state. Below are three (of the many) of the things I really liked about the new Muscle Imbalances Revealed: Upper Body system.

Three Take Homes from Muscle Imbalances Revealed:

1) Connective Tissue Dictates Function
Dean Somerset’s presentation on ‘fascia’ was outstanding. He outlined a lot of the current research and thinking on the role fascia plays in performance, including how it communicates with the nervous system and how it adapts. Dean’s presentation was reminiscent of the two that I saw Thomas Myers give a few months back. Fascia is a living structure that constantly adapts to the stress (or lack thereof) placed across it and is an underlying factor in much of the movement dysfunction and eventual injury that we see on a daily basis. Because of it’s nervous system innervation, it can actually contract. Myers said that the 2010-2019 decade would be the “Fascial Fitness” era. I think the information Dean outlined in his presentation and the movement for most top performance experts and rehabilitation specialists to include soft-tissue work in their programs supports this. If you want a crash course on the current state of scientific knowledge on fascia, Dean’s presentation is your best bet. Of course, the science is interesting, but of no use if it lacks practicality. Dean followed up the scientific rationale with a number of easily implemented soft-tissue techniques (and how to perform them the CORRECT way) that people can incorporate into their pre-training warm-up routine.

2) Knowing What NOT To Do Is Half The Battle
Regardless of where you reside philosophically on the importance of assessments and corrective exercise, it’s relatively unarguable that people aren’t all built the same and that many will require some adjustment to their program to ensure they aren’t training their way into dysfunction or aggravating lurking injuries. It’s the old “don’t squeeze square pegs into round holes” analogy. Tony Gentilcore provided an in-depth look at upper body assessments, and then followed it up with a great battery of “if this, then don’t do this” scenarios and training strategies to help restore balance and optimal function across the thoracic spine and shoulders. Tony is a really bright guy and has been a great resource for me since I interned at Cressey Performance several years ago. Because the overwhelming majority of the clientele at CP are baseball players (and most of the rest are people that want to get really really ridiculously strong), Tony has years of daily experience working with high-risk populations to draw from, and it shows. His presentations were the ultimate display of practicality. They were also hilarious. If you have a good hold on all the assessment stuff and just want a few new punchlines to entertain your clients (or yourself), this would still be a great investment.

3) Proper Positioning Dictates Core Function
If I look back over the last year, I think one of the biggest changes I’ve made in my coaching philosophy has to do with the importance of positioning the spine and rib cage for optimal diaphragm functioning. Over the last 12 months, I’ve been exposed to this concept through multiple Postural Restoration Institute courses, Shirley Sahrmann’s new book “Movement System Impairment Syndromes of the Extremities, Cervical and Thoracic Spines“, Charlie Weingroff’s Training = Rehab, Rehab = Training, conversations I’ve had with other professionals about DNS, and now Dr. Jeff Cubos’ presentations. The general idea is that proper diaphragm function will drive both respiration and core control, which has implications for various aspects of performance, but will also play a role in dictating the body’s autonomic nervous system status. In other words, a poorly functioning diaphragm (unilaterally or bilaterally) can push you into a more sympathetic state during times when this system should be relatively dormant. This can have short- and long-term consequences on performance and recovery. A requisite step in establishing proper diaphragm function is establishing proper diaphragm position, which involves positioning the thoracolumbar junction and rib cage in a neutral alignment. Dr. Cubos goes through this in detail and provides exercise progressions for how to retrain your body to hold this position during movement.¬† Dr. Cubos and I have come to know each other through our work with hockey players. Because he’s relatively new to the “internet scene”, he’s probably one of the brightest and most skilled guys you’ve never heard of. His MIRU presentations do an excellent job of outlining the whys and hows of one of the most overlooked aspects of training.

I haven’t worked by way through all of Rick’s presentations yet, but they’re off to a great start. If you’re interested in grabbing a copy of MIRU, do not wait! The clock is ticking (they literally have a timer counting down until the special offer leaves…only a few hours left). Click the image/link below to check it out!

Click here >> Muscle Imbalances Revealed: Upper Body

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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