Ever hurt yourself during a workout? Exercising incorrectly can ultimately be worse for you than not exercising at all! There are countless preventable injuries caused by poor form each day as people head to the gym or the boxing class or down to their local CrossFit session. It’s even easy to get hurt doing yoga, Pilates or swimming!
So how do you know if you have good form? Here are some things to check:
Be a square
Look in the nearest mirror. Your shoulders and hips form a kind of square. Ok, maybe a rectangle. Look at your hips. Are they on the same level or is one lifted higher than the other? Is one shoulder lifted higher than the other one? If so, fix it! Exercising out of alignment reinforces imbalances and can result in lots of strain and pain in muscles and tendons below and above the point that’s out of whack. My chiropractor just diagnosed an intense pain in my shoulder as a result of an imbalance in my hip (remember the song that sang, “The knee bone’s connected to the hip bone..?”)!
Look around the gym. You can see people draped over the elliptical trainers or hunched over bikes. Make sure your spine is long when you’re on a machine (i.e., stand up straight!) or in the spin class. Be mindful of how you hold your body, especially on the machines you use. If you feel awkward, you probably are!
Protect your back
I use the expression “Lengthen your tailbone” when I teach Pilates. The ultimate goal is to have a long spine rather than a hinged or arched spine. This is especially important when you’re in a spinal extension position like in a Cobra position in yoga. Or doing burpees (which can take out your back for weeks in just one session!) in which so many people sag through the hips when they shoot their legs out behind them.
Use your core
If you’re not using your core when you exercise, you’re not doing it properly. No matter the exercise, pull your belly button into your spine and up under your ribs. Like trying to fit into the skinniest jeans you own. As you engage your abs, you protect your back! When you take your next kick boxing class, keep those abs engaged! More to come on this next time!
~ Stacy Geant Hughes, Certified Pilates Instructor, Certified Pink Ribbon Program specializing in post breast cancer surgery rehabilitation, Owner of Core Value Pilates, LLC in Ridgewood, NJ