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Muscle Balance

The relationship between the strength and length of the muscles around a joint is known as muscle balance and when examining an athlete we need to assess both stationary and dynamic muscle balance (Kemp & Boynes 2000)[1].


Muscles can be divided into two types: mobilisers and stabilisers.


Mobilisers are found close to the body's surface and tend to cross two joints and are typically made up of fast twitch fibres that produce power but lack endurance. They assist rapid or ballistic movement and produce high force. With time they tend to shorten and tighten.


Stabilisers are situated deeper, invariably only cross one joint, and are made up of slow twitch fibres for endurance and postural control. With time they tend to weaken and lengthen


Both groups of muscles work in a complementary fashion to stabilise and move, over time the mobilisers can inhibit the action of the stabilisers and begin to move and attempt to stabilise on their own. This inhibition of the stabilisers and preferential recruitment of the mobilisers is central to the development of "imbalance" and is what we want to prevent.

Balance and Strength

Assessment of an athlete's muscle balance and strength should be conducted on a regular basis.


  1. KEMP, S. and BOYNES, C. (2000) Why detecting muscle imbalance is an essential part of an injury prevention strategy. Peak Performance, 128, p. 4-6

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (1999) Muscle Balance [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

Related References

The following references provide additional information on this topic:

  • SILVER, R. L. et al. (1985) The myth of muscle balance. A study of relative strengths and excursions of normal muscles about the foot and ankle. Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, British Volume67 (3), p. 432-437
  • COOMBS, R. and GARBUTT, G. (2002) Developments in the use of the hamstring/quadriceps ratio for the assessment of muscle balance. Journal of sports science & medicine1 (3), p. 56
  • REID, J. G. and COSTIGAN, P. A. (1987) Trunk muscle balance and muscular force. Spine12 (8), p. 783-786

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