Saturday, 18 January 2014

All in good form

There is something that has been on my mind the past couple of weeks. Exercise Form.  Maybe it is because I have noticed a deterioration in my own form due to a weakened postpartum core, but bad form seems to be a plague lately.

As a running group instructor I saw variations of this a lot. Slumped shoulders, shuffling feet, side swaying arms and other easy to spot (and easy to fix) running form mistakes.

I am by no means an expert on strength training, but I do believe that if you are going to do an exercise you should do any modifications you can to execute the movement effectively an efficiently.

The worst offenders for me are burpees and planks.  This week I have attended 2 HIIT classes that were full of burpees.  I will try to explain where and how my form falls apart:

  • my wrists hurt from nursing so I can't plant my hands properly.

  • when I jump out my lower back  almost certainly sways.

  • I don't have the hip flexibility to jump forward properly.

  • my elbows lock out as my arms fatigue causing undue stress on the joint.

All of these problems put me at risk for injury, and when I look around the room I am not the only one having problems. I have noticed a movement lately that emphasizes speed and heavy weights before form. Don't get me wrong, I love HIIT and think it is a great workout. But there is something about peer pressure in group classes that needs to be addressed.

We need to hear more "go at your own pace" of "form first" mantras in these classes. I also don't have a problem in particualr with burpees, I just think they should be approached with care.

12 minute athlete has some great advice on this topic:
Go ahead and try the tough exercises. Do a pull up, or a push up, or a handstand, even if you’re not that good enough at it yet. Build up your confidence. But when it comes down to really getting stronger, work on the modified versions. And don’t be embarrassed about it!

That is encouraging to me. I can do 5 pushups and then drop to my knees. I can hold side plank for 30 seconds and then drop on one knee. I can do full chatruanga and then modify it half way through class.

For those interested, here is a great video on how to do a burpee with proper form:

Have you ever felt peer pressure at the gym or your favourite class to keep up?

What exercise do you struggle with the most and how does that make you feel? (um chin-ups anyone??)

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