If you were going to pick a sport that is very strenuous on your upper body, you’re probably not going to automatically think of one that involves you standing still for a large majority of the day.
However, archery does actually require an incredible amount of an archer’s muscles.
Bows aren’t exactly the lightest things to exist, and if you’re holding one for several hours, several days a week, then you’re going to feel the burn as you start gaining more muscle.
One of the main issues that archers can face is that because you are mainly using one side of the body, you can end up looking slightly ‘lopsided’ if you’re not careful.
How Are Muscle Imbalances Caused?
So what causes muscle imbalances? Well, one of the most common causes of muscle imbalance is repetitive motions. When muscles shorten, they produce force.
When muscles generate this force repeatedly for the same actions over and over again, the muscles start to become a bit overused and so remain in a state of semi-contraction, which can actually change the position of the joint.
So based on that information, it isn’t hard to imagine that archery may cause some muscle imbalances. This is because you’re using heavy equipment often, which is being used in the same way again and again and again.
And unless you’re ambidextrous, it’s likely that you’re doing this on one side of your body over and over. This is going to overuse these muscles and cause a slight imbalance.
Through regular participation in archery, it is possible to cause a muscle imbalance. The imbalance between muscles in the stomach and the back is the cause of most hollow back issues. This is why it is so important for archers to strengthen their core muscles.
The muscles in your back are a lot stronger than the muscles in your stomach. Because the back muscles are stronger, it means they are also a lot tighter than those in your stomach.
This causes them to pull on the rear side of the pelvic bone as well as draw down the front side.
When the front of the pelvis is pulled down, the stomach muscles then stretch to try and accommodate the motion. This causes the archer’s lower back to arch.
This is something that we really don’t want to happen as an arched back will hurt a recurve archer’s form because they will be using the wrong back muscles. You see because there’s too much tension in their back, they then struggle to isolate the correct muscles.
This problem mainly comes from the imbalance of muscle strength so this needs to be combatted to prevent it from happening.
You can strengthen your abdominal muscles and put your focus on the lower abdomen to try and prevent a hollow back. You should also try to make your lower back as flexible as possible.
I would advise stretching to try and increase your flexibility. Once you’ve warmed your body up with some light physical activity, try to always stretch before you start shooting.
You can find loads of helpful stretches online. Try to be strict with yourself and make sure you stretch at least every day that you shoot.
If you can make sure that you’re stretching every day no matter what – even better! Just be sure that you always give yourself at least one rest day a week because your body does need time to recover.
What Muscles Does Archery Build?
It’s important to learn what muscles archery does build. I would always advise those really serious about archery to be regularly visiting the gym.
If you know which muscles you’re targeting during archery, you can focus on these muscles at the gym on the weaker side of your body to try and balance it out.
Archery is most likely going to target the latissimus dorsi, the trapezius, and the rhomboids. Essentially you’re going to want to specifically work on the muscles of your upper back.
Archery will work these muscles in a similar way that weight exercises such as the upright row, back raises, shrugs, and single-arm rows will. Try doing these exercises on your weaker side to create a more even overall strength in your back.
Archery does also develop the shoulders and the chest, so you will want to make sure that you do exercises that will strengthen these muscles on the other side.
What Are The Effects Of A Muscle Imbalance?
While strengthening your muscles through sports such as archery, you have to be really careful that you don’t over-work one side of your body and completely neglect the other side as it can result in a muscle imbalance.
Why is this so bad? Well, muscle imbalances can lead to several physical problems such as limited mobility, an unbalanced appearance, and it can also be quite painful.
They also can result in instability which can then cause further damage to joints, ligaments, tendons, bones, muscles, and connective tissue.
Can You Fix Muscle Imbalances?
In short, yes you can. It’s really important to try and identify your muscle imbalance as soon as possible. As with anything, the earlier you catch it, the easier it is to sort out.
Muscle Strength And Endurance Testing
One way to identify if you have an imbalance is to partake in biometric testing. A machine will measure your muscular contractions and this will reveal both strength and muscle imbalances.
You can also try and observe the imbalance yourself. Sometimes athletes will take pictures from several angles and not just look in a mirror. Doing this often will help to see if your body is dissymmetrical.
This is a great way to check your head position, to see if your shoulders are hunched, check your pelvic tilt, as well as your leg rotation.
The easiest way to fix an imbalance is with exercise. The best form of exercise for fixing muscle imbalances is the gym, especially the weights. These will help you get back on track and you can focus on the exact areas that you want to build.
When doing this, you need to be really aware of your form. If your form is not correct you could end up doing more harm than good.
It’s always best to check with a professional, maybe a coach or a personal trainer, that you are working out the correct muscles and building where you mean to.
If you do not have access to or funds for a trainer, always try to check your form in the mirror, or see if you can convince a friend to buddy up with you who check your form for you.
It is true that excessive use of one side of your muscles like you use in archery can cause some muscle imbalances over time.
However, there is not a wide range of information online about this which leads me to believe that it isn’t a typically common thing to be happening unless you are shooting all the time.
It is still possible though, so you should always try and train the other side of your body at the gym to prevent this from happening.