What Are Stabilizer Muscles?

Man and Woman building strength using stabilizer muscles

Ever heard of stabilizer muscles? If you haven’t, then you’re not alone as most people don’t know they even exist. When it comes to working out and fitness, most people primarily think about strengthening those muscles that move the body. Yet, it’s the stabilizing muscles that hold your body upright and in control enough to even perform those squats while you’re weightlifting or that tree pose during yoga.

When it comes to movement and exercise, the human body is complex. Each part of the body, each muscle, joint, bone, and tendon, has an important role to play so that your body can function as it’s supposed to. If a muscle is weak, it can cause problems with movement, alignment, and joint stability. It can make it hard to move properly and maintain a correct posture. Stabilizing muscles are the most important muscles for support and holding your body upright. Strong stabilizing muscles means having proper posture and alignment, which means decreased pain and risk of injury.

Movers & Stabilizers

There are two types of muscles in the body: movers and stabilizers. Movers are the muscles that are responsible for moving your body – i.e., they’re the ones that enable you to do those bicep curls that get you massive arms or do those crunches that get you the washboard abs. They help you do push-ups and pull-ups, lunges and squats, planks and crunches. These are the muscles that most people think about and focus on when they hit the gym for strengthening.

Stabilizers, on the other hand, are what support your entire body. They are much smaller than the moving muscles, yet they are incremental in preventing pain and decreasing injury risk. These are usually the muscles that are the root cause of pain for people. However, they’re usually the most ignored and forgotten, unless you go to a physical therapist.

Importance Of Strong Stabilizing Muscles

Physical therapists look at the entire body when it comes to finding the root cause of a patient’s pain and injury. While some people ask what movement caused the problem, physical therapists look at how the body was performing during the movement. And, more often than not, the movement that causes the pain is the result of weakened muscles, muscle imbalance, and, in particular, weak stabilizer muscles.

When you have weak stabilizers, it becomes more difficult to perform tasks because of improper alignment and positioning. Furthermore, it can cause pain as misalignment strains joints and tendons unnaturally and unnecessarily. Abnormal movements of joints are one of the biggest contributors to pain and overuse injuries. Yet, many people do not look at the weakness of the stabilizing muscles as part of the problem. Instead, they simply focus on better alignment.

However, how does one have good alignment, proper positioning, and good posture? It has strong stabilizing muscles that allow the body to perform optimally and efficiently.

How To Strengthen Your Stabilizers

The best way to strengthen your stabilizers is to do exercises slowly, using low weights and doing a higher number of repetitions. Furthermore, you must focus on positioning and alignment, which is why you should be doing exercises slowly. Balance exercises are also beneficial for strengthening your stabilizers, as well as using a bosu or stability ball. Resistance bands are particularly helpful when it comes to working your smaller muscles.

Working the rotator cuff helps stabilize the shoulder joint, which allows you to work those deltoids to the size of grapefruits. Strengthening your mid back, or erector spine, will make good posture easier, which improves workout performance and breathing capability. Working on the smaller glute muscles stabilizes the pelvis and hips, which essentially makes it possible for you to balance on one foot.

Strengthening your stabilizing muscles might not give you a reason to show off your beach body. However, without a strong stabilizer, don’t even think about getting those six-pack abs, sleek-looking legs, or toned arms. With strong movers and weak stabilizers, you’re heading to low and heavy workout performance with an increased risk of pain and injury.