You've been getting some pretty nasty glares from the trainers at your gym, and you can't seem to figure out why. Our friends at Shape are letting us know why trainers are getting annoyed and how to fix our mistakes.
Nobody is perfect. I'm definitely not. My squats are funky, I battle tendinosis in my ankle, and I have scoliosis that exacerbates a cranky rotator cuff. Though annoying and often painful, these injuries keep me focused on one important element of working out: form.
After all, injuries can sometimes lead us to do exercises incorrectly—even trainers, like me. Yet bad form can be a product of more than just injury—sometimes our own lifestyles are to blame. For example, if you sit at a desk or even just use your phone frequently (let's be real, that's all of us), your body might form to a highly-rounded position. (Psst... Do you know How Much Texting Harms Your Posture?) And this means you may end up doing exercises with improper form—which can lead to a possible injury like a torn shoulder labrum or even a herniated disc.
Too many times, I'll glance around the gym floor and spot athletes with rounded shoulders, a scrunched neck, and a curved lower back (ouch!) while attempting exercises like mega-heavy deadlifts or a planks. I have to resist the urge to run over and correct them before something goes awry.
Not only are we making ourselves physically smaller by making these errors, we're perpetuating posture that can actually hurt us.
Scary? Totally. Avoidable? Likely. The biggest challenge is learning to take your time—you need to make sure you can maintain a long spine throughout the entire range of motion for any move you do. So start with these easy steps—some you can do on your own; some for the gym—to fight back and perfect your own form. (Then try the Perfect Posture Workout.)
On Your Own:
- Check your posture. Roll your shoulders back so your palms are facing forward. Your shoulder blades should feel like their being pushed down into your back pockets. Your chest is open and proud, like you're presenting your clavicle to the hottie you spotted over the weekend. Your back shouldn't be overly arched or super tucked in. This is actually the anatomical position, crazy as it may feel. Our chests and shoulders want to be this open, this is how the joints function best. Before you hit send on your next email, check to see how you're holding yourself.
- Relax your neck. Are you having a totally stressful day? Try gentle head nods and tilts to alleviate any tension that could be building, which may lead you to tighten your shoulders and upper back muscles.
- Feel it out. If you happen to have an office or a private little nook, stand against a wall for a moment. Your shoulder blades should be against the wall. Your lower back should slightly be curving away from it. This tactile cue helps to train your mind what this posture should feel like.
Check out more great stories from Shape:
- Maximize the Rest Periods of Interval Training to Get Fit Faster
- Should You Stick to Fresh Produce, or Are Canned Foods Just as Good For You?
- 7 Reasons to Take a Real Winter Vacation