Why Olympic Gymnasts have bad posture

Back in 2002, I was fresh out of college and working
for a couple of pretty smart strength coaches.

This is when I first learned about muscular imbalances
(muscle viruses), how they were caused and how they
can destroy an athletes career.

While showing me how to assess new clients to design
corrective stretching programs for them, my mentor asked
me a weird question.

He asked, “If you were to do an assessment on a world
class athlete, like Michael Jordan, and discovered these
muscular imbalances… what should you do?”

Of course… I said that the first thing I would do is help him
fix all of his imbalances.

If a world class athlete had muscle imbalances, and I
could help him fix him it, I would be a world class coach.

Or so I thought.

My mentor laughed at me, shook his dead and told me
that I was WRONG.

He said, “don’t change a single thing on him”!

If an athlete is performing at a high level despite having
muscular imbalance, he may actually be performing at this
level IN SPITE of them.

In other words….

The muscular imbalances are THE CAUSE of his
incredible athletic prowess.

So don’t mess with it.

Earlier this week someone posted this picture on my
Facebook fanpage wall.

He asks a great question.

And my answer is just as my mentor told me over 10 years

Their “poor posture” is most likely THE CAUSE of their high
level of performance.

Their bodies were molded into gymnastic machines.

They are built to do what they do, with a high level of efficiency.

And granted that they are not suffering from poor performance
or chronic injury, we should accept that this is the best form for
these particular athletes.

I wouldn’t mess with their bodies one bit.

Now, if they were like some of the 12 year old baseball players
that show up at my gym presenting the typical medial rotation
of the upper arm and anteriorly tilted opposite hip…

…and they companied of declining performance or back pain,
then I would help them fix it.

Or like the old guy who bowled with his buddies every Thrusday
night for the past 27 years, who complained of feeling “twisted”.

Then I would do my best to help him “untwist” his dysfunctional

Here is a rule for success in all walks of life….

Don’t hold on too tightly to “the rules” (even THAT rule, lol).

Every person and every situation is unique, and should be treated
as such.

Of course there are easily recognizable patterns, but don’t take
them for granted either.

They can change at any moment.

Growing stronger means growing more sensitive to the ever
changing dynamics in this stream of energy we call life.

– Elliott Hulse

Comments 2

  1. Much of gymnastics is performed in hollow body position, in which the core is compressed the, butt tucked in, and the chest slightly hollowed. Much of the power in acrobatic movements comes from snapping the core from an arched to a hollow or tighter position. This seems a likely cause of the specialization.

    Elliott, I believe you meant ‘because of’ not ‘in spite of’.

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