Ever twisted or pulled something while working out? Regardless of the cause, getting hurt while exercising can be a huge setback. Working out shouldn’t be a dangerous activity, as long as you keep one major thing in mind – proper form.
Proper form is essential for success at the gym at any level. So, whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, everyone can use some simple reminders when it comes to form. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
The temptation to hunch over when using a treadmill, stair climber, bike or other cardio-driven device is strong, especially when fighting fatigue. But don’t give in, as you could be hurting much more than your endurance. Poor form or posture can not only cause back and neck pain, but is also promotes bad habits that can cause lifelong functionality issues.
To fix it: Keep a straight, relaxed posture with your core tight and eyes looking straight ahead. If you get too tired to maintain good posture, you’re too tired to keep going. Take a break.
Considered one of the best moves you can do, the dead lift can also be deadly if done wrong, leaving you to suffer from lower back pain. While we may naturally find ourselves folding or rolling over to lift, especially when weights may be too heavy, it’s important to remember functional movements and hinge at the hips when we fold. Avoid lower back injury by maintaining your natural lumbar curvature and perfecting your form before increasing weight and repetitions.
To fix it: Keep your back, shoulders and neck straight and facing forward. Keep a slight bend in your knees with your core tightened and engaged.
It’s kind of amazing how not moving requires so much muscle coordination. The plank requires complete core engagement, including everything from your shoulders to your toes. Like cardio, fighting fatigue during a plank leads to poor form that can lead to shoulder and back pain. If you’re unable to maintain a strong back and straight line from tip to tail, take a break.
To fix it: Keep your back straight with a relaxed neck. Think about the muscles in your core and bring focus to your breathing. Bend your toes slightly to bring balance on the pads of your feet instead of the tips of your toes.
Few other exercises have the potential to increase strength, change your body composition and make you feel better like the squat. While it looks simple, the squat is actually a very complex exercise that can leave you feeling more pain than burn. It’s important to check your stance, being mindful of your posture. And always remember to never lock your knees.
To fix it: Stand shoulder width apart and plant your feet firmly on the ground. Keep your back straight while bending your knees as if you’re going to sit in a chair. Once you’re in the squat, try wiggling your toes, if you can’t without losing balance, shift more of your weight into your heels.
Proper Rest: Completing your workouts efficiently and getting a good burn is important, but if rushing is making you shorten your rest periods, then you need to put on the brakes. Rest and recovery allows the body to produce more energy for the next set of exercise and also removes metabolic waste from the muscles. Active recovery periods should always be as long as the exercise interval.
To fix it: Relax. Get a drink of water. There’s no shame in taking a brief rest, and this will allow you to push harder during your next set. Avoid temptation to shorten the recovery intervals or to let the recovery periods be less than active.
For more help regarding the fundamentals of technique, click here. This trainer lead class will help you learn proper form to help you gain muscle and burn fat.