Feature Reprinted from Palisadian-Post | By: Susan Howard, Special to the Healthy Living Section
Think of how we come into this world and our evolution of movement as we grow. We start in prone position, to belly crawl, to all fours, to creeping, pulling up, standing, cruising and eventually, walking, kicking, stretching, bending, turning and balancing.
As we age we gradually reverse the process. We often lose our ability to squat, maintain balance, start tightening and losing our strength. But instead of giving into devolution, take the necessary steps to challenge yourself by developing strong movement patterns and adding resistance and increasing balance demands.
Proper form is essential: bad habits create wear and tear on the body, causing imbalances that become a downward cycle to injury and pain.
Simple Tips for Good Form
Good Form Practice #1
Start with an active series of warm up exercises that prepares the body to optimize upcoming movement. Focus on lateral movements, squats, lunges and rotations. Benefits include an increase in the core temperature, activation of the nervous system, setting the foundation to lengthen, strengthen, stabilize and balance muscles, re-establishing mobility, coordination, and joint stability, and heighten the body’s ability to process information.
Good Form Practice #2
When doing squats or lunges, keep your weight-bearing knee directly in line with your ankle and behind your toes. Keep your weight on the heel of the foot, core engaged, chest lifted and eyes focused straight ahead. Having your weight evenly distributed reduces the stress on the joints and helps activate the glutes and core for proper support.
Good Form Practice #3
Engage your core throughout the day. It’s important to keep your center tight all day, not just exercising. Draw the navel to the spine and continue to breathe. If your abdominal and lower back muscles work together, your body alignment will be more efficient and prevent long-term deterioration.
Good Form Practice #4
Become glute dominant instead of quad dominate. Absorb force through the center of your body and glutes. Hips are over-looked when it comes to keeping stability and proper mobility. Most back and hip problems are a result of faulty usage of the hips. Maximize the efficiency of the hip cuff, it consists of more than 40 muscles in and around your lower pelvis and is responsible for most of the lower body movement.
Good Form Practice #5
Maintain good posture. Bring your shoulder blades back and down as well as engage your lats. Imagine you are dropping your shoulder blades down towards your glutes. Keep your chest tall by lengthening the chest and lats, and strengthen the muscles of the upper back and rotator cuff. Benefits will include reduced tension and stress in neck, shoulders and back.
Perfect posture is the proper stance for optimal movement. When standing tall, imagine a line being drawn from your ears down to your shoulders, to your hips, to your knees, all the way to your ankles.
Good Form Practice #6
Remember to rest and add recovery time to your workout. It’s important to remember that injuries happen more frequently when you are tired.
Conditioning is not just a function of cardiovascular fitness but possessing efficient movement patterns that develop symmetry in the body, that gives more longevity in the muscles and joints as well as power, strength, flexibility, balance and endurance.
Note: Remember to always consult your physician before starting any program.
Susan Howard is a Partner and Director of Lifestyle Performance Training at Studio K in Pacific Palisades. Her philosophy of lifestyle performance training is to incorporate all the functional movements in a creative, efficient program to help individuals #train4life.