It’s finally here—the first long weekend of the ‘summer.’ While it’s not ‘officially’ summer just yet, Victoria Day weekend is considered by many as the start of summer, as the temperatures continue to increase and the daylight stretches longer into the evening hours, giving us more energy and more time to enjoy the outdoors.
It’s also the time when more people start exercising and working toward being more fit so they can be more active and look good in their summer attire. But, injuries and new aches and pains can accompany the increase in exercise, especially if the exercises aren’t performed properly. Worse than that, serious injuries can occur if proper form isn’t used when performing exercises, especially when lifting heavy weights.
Many people think they know how to perform an exercise, and will add weights to try to increase their results quickly. Often, they aren’t aware that their form is off, and they are lucky they haven’t been injured—it takes only one bad rep to result in an injury that could last for weeks, or turn into a serious problem.
Whether using weights or not, form is extremely important for ALL exercises. Using proper form ensures that the right muscle groups are being worked, will optimize results and also prevent injuries.
In a healthy spine, there are three natural curves:
- The neck (cervical spine), which curves gently inward
- The mid-back (thoracic spine), which curves outward
- The low back (lumbar spine), which also curves inward
To maintain the proper spine position, all exercises should be started from a neutral position. Keep the head and chin up with ears over the shoulders; retract the shoulders slightly and keep them down with the chest out in front (lead with the chest); hold the arms in a softly bent (not locked) position, and keep the wrists neutral (neither extended or contracted). Engage the abdominals during any movement, and perform any exercises (squats, lunges rows, pull-ups, planks, bicep curls, tricep extensions, etc.) from this base position.
Maintaining a neutral spine can be a challenge sometimes but it creates a stable base and helps activate your core. All movement requires the core to fire first before anything else is engaged.
There are a few key indicators that posture needs improvement:
- Collapsed arches in the feet and/or sore knees
- Elevated hip or shoulder
- One side of the body rotated forward or backward
- Pelvis/hips tilted forward, backward or to the side
- Rounded back
- Drooping chest and shoulders
- Head jutting forward
Muscle Imbalances → Poor Posture → Trigger Points → Chronic Pain
With a conscious focus on improving posture and performing specific exercises with proper form, these problems can be corrected, resulting in the ability to progress with exercises that improves both physical fitness and physical appearance—just in time for wearing shorts and bathing suits this summer!
Other examples of incorrect alignment during exercises on the left – correct alignment is the right.
I can help by demonstrating correct exercise form, and by helping create specific strategies to improve posture and overall core strength. Ask me how!