Most athletes have a dominant and weaker side of their body. This can happen naturally or over time compensating for an injury. Imbalances might not be apparent in your everyday activities, but CrossFit can bring out pretty quickly. You could have left to right or front to back dominances without realizing. Left unaddressed, stronger muscles will become stronger, and weaker muscles will become tighter... and chances for injury increase as imbalances grow from unchecked movement patterns.
Think back to the last time you watched a group of people work out. Did you ever see a person finish a pull-up with their head closer to one hand or another? Maybe you saw a person do an overhead movement and one arm finished extension before the other? You can even see it with a squat (as they stand back up, there is a slight sway in one direction). These are just a couple places you might see imbalances.
The important thing is awareness. CrossFit will show you your weaknesses, but it will also give you the opportunity to balance yourself back out.
Here are some things that you can do to address some common weaknesses:
- Try some dumbbell side/front/overhead lunges. This will work on your balance as well as pointing out muscular imbalances.
- For your upper body, try different push/pull exercises with dumbbells or kettlebells to expose weaknesses. Do an extra set of the exercise with the weaker side.
- For the lower body try adding pistols, step ups, and different lunge variations into your warm-up.
- Mobility! This is especially important if your imbalance is rooted from old injuries.
So when a fellow athlete points out to you that you pull up or squat "weirdly," or your coach points out an imbalance, make sure you stay aware and take time to address it. Don't write it off as an exercise quirk.