Strive for Symmetry

Ying Yang Balance. Gettyimages

 Symmetry describes a sense of harmony, proportion and balance. We observe a perfectly symmetrical face, in which both sides appear identical in shape and size. From an aesthetic view point a symmetrical image is considered artistic and of high-value.  

With the human body, we also seek symmetry, balance and proportion between the right and left sides. Typically however, we observe asymmetry or unevenness in most bodies.

The appeal for symmetry in the body has far-reaching implications, not only for aesthetic appearance but as relates to function and performance. 

It is common to have a discrepancy in leg length from Right to Left. The left leg may be 1 inch or more longer or shorter than the right. If this imbalance is not corrected or accounted for, over time the body must compensate for the length difference. These compensations can take the form of shifting postures to favor the shorter leg, or may compensate through the knees, back or ankles. 

This apparent difference in leg length may not mean that the legs are actually a different length. It may be that the pelvis is slightly twisted to one side more than the other, manifesting in what appears to be one leg shorter than the other. If the pelvic alignment is corrected, the difference in leg length may disappear. 

A therapist may see this leg length imbalance and prescribe some sort of orthotic insert, to give lift to the shorter leg and therefore ease the pressure on the pelvis.

This is an attempt to re-establish symmetry between both sides of the body. 

To have a body as symmetrical as possible is an ideal because a symmetrical body is a balanced body that works more effortlessly and precisely, whatever the activities involved. 

Exercise programs and sports activities can also be asymmetrical.

For example, a tennis player uses one hand predominantly. Same with a baseball pitcher who throws only with one arm and never with the other. These types of one-sided activities develop strength and coordination in the muscles of the dominant side, however the non-dominant side is underused. Over years of one-sided movement patterns, the body develops compensations which often lead to injuries.

Examples can be found in gyms. A young man may favor bench press and bicep curls, to grow his chest and arms. He may wear baggy pants to conceal skinny legs that seem out of place compared to his well-developed upper body. His exercises of choice, bench press and curls work only horizontal pushing and vertical pulling movements, respectively. He could improve his program and add more symmetry by incorporating horizontal pulling such as rows and some vertical pushing such as military press, and add squats to better develop his legs. 

One of the advantages of kettlebell training is the emphasis on unilateral training, working one side of the body at a time.

If you are Right handed, you may find that doing Right hand swings is easier than Left hand swings. With time and practice, you will improve the coordination and strength of the non-dominant hand so it becomes more symmetrical to the dominant side. Since kettlebell training is movement-pattern based, you will work in more than one plane of motion, a balanced mix of pushing, pulling, squatting, lunging, hip-hinging, rotating, vertical and horizontal movements. Kettlebell training encourages a balanced, symmetrical development of the body as a whole.

Feel healthy, move better, and balance your workouts to create more symmetry in your body and in your life. 

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