Go to any gym and you will see a festival of bad form and poor exercise technique. People lifting too much weight with no regard for proper form. No wonder there are so many injuries among “lifters.??? Maintaining good posture is a fundamental part of any exercise technique. That’s because when you use correct form, stress is evenly distributed throughout the muscles, bones and joints, making you less prone to injuries. Besides if body structures are well-aligned, muscle recruitment is more efficient, which means that the most adequate muscles for the activity will be called into play, requiring less effort and energy to perform it. But do you know what proper form is? Here are some tips for keeping good body alignment during any exercise.
1. Neutral spine – Our spine has a series of natural curvatures that should be maintained while we exercise. These curves receive and re distribute forces, protecting the spine from ‘wear and tear’. Neutral spine refers to the maintenance of these natural curvatures, meaning that rounding or overarching the back is a big no-no. To keep your spine neutral imagine that there is a line pulling the top of your head, elongating your trunk.
2. Chin in – It is very common to poke the head out while performing push-ups and curl-ups. Also, looking yourself at the mirror while doing dead-lifts or squats compromise the alignment of the neck. So to keep your neck in check, tuck in your chin as if you were holding a tennis ball under your jaw.
3. Open chest – Our current lifestyle habits (sitting for long periods of time in front of a computer) make the chest muscles stronger and tighter than the back muscles, leading to a rounded shoulders position. The problem is that this position hinders movement of the arms and put the shoulder joint under great stress. To prevent injuries, keep the chest open and proud by bringing the shoulder blades back and down.
4. Core engaged – Abs and back muscles are responsible for protecting the lumbar spine. These are called core muscles. When you fire up those muscles, your hip bones take a position that maintains the natural lumbar curvature. A good way to engage those muscles is by bracing yourself as if someone was going to punch you in the stomach.
5. Soft joints –Locking the knees while standing or the elbows at the end of a movement reduce stability, putting the joint at risk of injury. Keep in mind that knees and elbows work as door hinges, which means they can only move forward or backward and any lateral force or rotation may damage their ligaments. Therefore, keep your knees soft while standing and never lock your elbows at the end of the movement.
6. Joint alignment – In order to protect weaker joints, it is important to keep them aligned with stronger ones. This means stacking the joints by aligning wrists, elbows and shoulders, and ankles, knees and hips as much as possible.
These are simple principles which anyone can apply to any type of training. Practice them in front of a mirror to create body awareness. With time they will become automatic and will come naturally.
AUTHORED BY CARLA TORRES
A little about Carla Torres
I started just like you, with a deep desire to change my body. In the beginning I was overwhelmed by, and even afraid of, the gym environment. However, as I saw my abilities improve I became more confident and comfortable. I went from a sedentary girl with unremarkable physique to INBA MS Millennium (Nevada State Bikini Diva champion). It was an empowering feeling and I decided that I wanted to share it with the world. That’s why I became a fitness trainer. Since then, I’ve worked closely with my clients to improve body image, encourage lifestyle changes, and achieve their goals.
If you would like to know more about Carla she is a Personal Trainer at Gfitness so come say hi on the gym floor or visit her website www.bodypeptalk.com