Saturday, February 11, 2012

Right-Side Muscular Dominance

I am very right-handed. My right arm is much stronger than my left arm, I have better vision in my right eye, and when I kick a soccer ball I really need to use my right foot otherwise risk embarrassing myself into a complete state of oblivion.

When I run, I experience tightness in my left hip muscles only. My recent knee problems have been on my left knee, and when I have heel pain it's on my left foot. However, one of my legs is slightly longer than the other, which I always thought was the cause for all the pains on my left side.

I came across an old issue of Runner's World which described potential muscle imbalances on one side of your body, which can make you more prone to injury.  They suggest a balance test which entails standing on one foot with your eyes closed and timing how long you can hold the position without toppling over. You then repeat the exercise on your other foot. Any large timing differences indicate muscle imbalance.
They must have read the same Runners World article.
I took the test with VERY clear results. I struggled mightily to stand on my left foot for 40 seconds, but was able to stand on my right foot comfortably for over 70 seconds and counting (I stopped at 70 seconds because the results were so obvious).

Without going into detail here, the article recommends various exercises to strengthen the less-dominant side (see the online version of the article in its entirety here.)  I am going to start doing the exercises and maybe they'll eventually alleviate me from my second career as a left-hip foam roller.

In the meantime, the article got me started thinking about all the things that I do with my right hand.  Off the top of my head, I came up with:
  • Brush my teeth
  • Drink from a glass
  • Zip my jackets
  • Use the remote control
  • Pour from a pitcher
  • Play rock, paper, scissors
  • Pick out all the marshmallows from the cereal box
  • Try unsuccessfully to flip pancakes in the air without using a spatula
  • Turn on the garbage disposal when fumbling for the kitchen light, scaring myself and waking up the neighbors' dog
  • High-five or wave at someone who's actually waving to someone behind me, then try to cover it up by pretending to fix my hair or scratch my head.

Yikes!  Do I do ANYTHING with my left hand?  It's a good thing that I type with two hands, at least.

I know that ambidexterity refers to equal skill in both hands, but I wasn't sure what the equivalent term was for someone who was equally skilled with both feet.  I looked it up and it's apparently called "ambipedal."

Incidentally, I recall a term called being "goofy-footed."  I learned this from a surfing lesson I took several years ago.  It refers to someone who surfs with their right foot in front versus with their left foot in front.  In other words, a goofy-footed surfer uses the left foot as the dominant foot.

Goofy surfing goofy-footed
NEW GOAL: Eliminate the muscle imbalance on my left side.

Steps to take:
  1. Focus on using my left side more by occasionally incorporating my left arm/leg into everyday tasks.
  2. Do suggested exercises from Runner's World to enhance ambidexterity and ambipedality.
  3. Be patient and realize that overcoming muscle imbalances will take time.
 LONG TERM GOAL: Work towards being able to comfortably surf goofy-footed.


  1. Lots of good info! I'm the same way - majorly right side dominant. And I do have some left leg issues. I guess I need to check out the link with the exercises!*

    1. Yay, right-handers! =) If you do implement the exercises, please let me know how things progress for you with them!

  2. Ha! I do the awkward wave "oh they aren't waving to me" too.

    Most people must favor one hand over the others. Right?

    I have been thinking about trying to eat with my left hand, to purposefully slow me down!

    1. Totally hear you on the slowing down while eating thing! When I go to Asian restaurants, I don't use chopsticks only because they slow me down too much. Bad, I know!