By Joli Guenther, MSSW, NASM-CPT
Strength training veterans know that an effective workout requires good form, but how do you know if you're maintaining your form, especially if most of your training is done at home? Thinking about form from head to toe by considering key alignment checkpoints will help keep you stable, injury free and working out effectively. So what are those key areas? Start at your feet and work up through the major joints (and injury prone areas) of the body.
- Feet: for most exercises your feet should be at hip distance with a very slight turn out. This provides a stable platform for movement, places your knees and hips in alignment, and slightly engages your glutes in activity. One exception to the width of your stance can be found in squats. Many people lack the flexibility to do squats at hip distance and will find a wider stance to be more comfortable and more effective.
- Knees: Avoid locking your knees in any activity. This places a load on the joint rather than drawing the work into the muscles. When bending your knees, draw them very slightly (aim for your third toe, not the outside wall) in order to engage the stabilizers of the hips.
- Hips and Pelvis: Think about tucking your pelvis very slightly under your body by lowering your sit bones in order to lengthen your low back, engage the core, and bring the hips into good alignment.
- Core activation: Deep abdominal activation provides support for the low back and the extremities of the body. You create this action naturally when you brace yourself for a sneeze or laughter and can create it during your workouts by drawing your deep belly muscles inward as you press out for an exhalation. When you inhale, continue to use this deep abdominal support throughout your workout.
- Shoulders: To put your shoulders in a good position, think about shrugging them up towards your ears and then letting them go. Shoulder blades should move down your spine and your collar bones and chest should open a bit wider
- Head and neck: Keeping the chin slightly tucked toward the neck lengthens the back of our neck and places our spine in a healthy position all the way down to our pelvis. A common error is to jut our chin in the direction of our movement and to follow the movement of weights with our eyes. This creates a distortion in both the spine and the pelvis, which can ultimately result in low back and shoulder injury.
If you're getting started on a weight lifting or cardio routine, you may want to keep a list of these checkpoints around to reference during your first few workouts. In time you will find that they become second nature and that good form in exercise and good posture in daily life are closely linked. If you find yourself with ongoing aches and pains or feel unstable in your activities, it may be worthwhile to schedule a session or two with a personal trainer or physical therapist who can instruct you personally in mastering a good form.
Posted by Horizon Fitness at 08/13/2009 07:28:17 PM |
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