Monday, August 20, 2012

Exercise and the Importance of Proper Form

Sometimes, it seems like fitness professionals are always yelling about keeping your core tight, your shoulders down, and your knees behind your toes when you do exercises. It's not just because we like yelling (I know you thoroughly doubt this statement but just go with it), but because your posture is very very very important to your exercise routine.

Why? Because posture could be the difference between hurting yourself or not getting the most out of your exercise, and staying fit. What are the most common form flaws?

Shoulders up: When we run, do yoga, or do other exercises that require an upright position, many people tend to spend their energy unconsciously lifting their shoulder to their ears. If could be because most of us are now used to slouching over computers or because we feel it reduces pressure on other muscles, but it really makes us use less of our energy in the right place because we are busy using it in the wrong place. Think about it. The next time you exercise, just roll your shoulders back and out and your chest out, and feel the difference. We don't even realize we are doing it.

Core tight: To keep your body upright, you need great core muscles. A lot of men do exercises with a slouch, and a lot of women do exercises with our butts out, both putting pressure on the lower back. To maximize your output, always keep your core tight. It helps build those great abs too!

Knees in front of toes: Now, it is important to be really really careful about this one.A lot of folks bounce up and down in their squat without paying attention to where their knees are. If your knees go beyond your toes, you are putting a lot of pressure on those knees, and not working your bum enough. And that's supposed to be the point, right?

Landing hard on the heels: When you run or do plyomteric exercises that require a lot of jumping, it is easy to just let your feet fall on the ground with each step. But it is important to make sure you land on the balls of your feet, and not on the heels or the sides. Landing badly can hurt your ankles in the long run. In the short term, it reduces the impact to the right places (like your legs), and puts all the impact on the places you don't really want to be working hard (like your ankles and knees). Additionally, about a third of runners get hurt at least once in their lives, so it is important to be careful so you don't become one of that third.

Overstretching the knee: Have you heard your yoga instructor say "Don't lock in your knees"? What they mean is that you should always keep an internal softness around your joints. Don't jerk into positions because rather than give your muscles a workout, you are giving your joints a workout. Muscles need that contraction and relaxation motion to get the maximum effect, but it you are over-jerking, you are not allowing them get that motion, and you could potentially hurt your joints.

There are many other form mistakes people make, but these are the biggest ones I've seen. Stay safe folks! If you aren't doing it right, you're probably not getting the most out of it.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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