New to exercise? Tips to stay injury-free!
With new years resolutions in full swing and summer fast approaching, this time of year is popular for people to “get back in shape”. As a physiotherapist, I often see individuals enter the clinic with somewhat “preventable” injuries. If we can educate individuals on proper technique and biomechanics during exercise, then perhaps we can prevent some of these conditions from occurring.
My goal for this post is to teach you some basic exercise do’s and don’t that can be incorporated into all forms and levels of physical activity. Adhering to proper exercise prescription principles such as Frequency, Intensity, Type & Time (F.I.T.T.) is a way to help guide appropriate levels physical activity for individuals, however below I am going to focus on my 3 top tips to avoid injury from a biomechanical perspective
1. Engage your core
If you look back a few months ago, I posted a 2 part series about your CORE. I hope that these posts gave you a better idea of what your core is, and how to properly activate it. If you didn’t have a chance to read these articles I suggest that you do, I bet you’ll learn something new! Here they are in case you didn’t catch them:
Now that you are up to date on what your core is and how to activate it, I suggest that you try to incorporate this technique into all forms of your current activity and exercise regime. Learning how to engage and strengthen your core can help to prevent many injuries, especially those related to the lumbar (low back) region.
2. Don’t your you knees collapse in
Going into a “knock-kneed” position is a very common biomechanical fault that is exhibited when individuals perform physical activity. Some of the more common exercises where this problem is seen is during lunges and squats, but can also occur momentarily while running and manoeuvring hills/stairs (especially downhill).
The medical term for “knock-kneed” is “genu valgus”. Your knees can veer inwards towards your midline due to a few different causes. One area to look at is what’s happening at your foot and ankle region. If your arches are not supported, or if you are allowing them to collapse into pronation then your knees are going to follow suit and deviate towards your midline. On the otherhand, the driving issue may be more localized to the hip and pelvic region. If one is not strong in their hip stabilizing muscles, then the hips may internally rotate and therefore bring your knee into that valgus position. The picture below depicts this perfectly.
Repetitive exercises with poor form can eventually lead to an “overuse” type injury; this is often the case when people don’t have any recollection of a specific moment of injury to explain their symptoms. Poor lower extremity biomechanical control such as dynamic genu valgus can lead to numerous different conditions around the hip, knee and foot/ankle complex. It is important to ensure sufficient strength around your hip/pelvis region as well as proper footwear/support in order to avoid this common exercise fault.
3. Avoid the ‘chin poke’ during exercise
Poor head and neck posture during work, day-to-day activities as well as exercise, could eventually result in a multitude of painful conditions. Thoracic kyphosis (upper back rounding) in combination with cervical extension (chin poke) could eventually cause issues such as neck pain, thoracic pain and stiffness, shoulder pain and headaches just to name a few.
This poor biomechanical habit is often seen in individuals that have a sedentary job and have to sit and look at a computer screen all day. On the other hand, individuals can also exhibit this poor posture when performing both cardiovascular as well as strength training exercises. When strength training, this exercise “don’t” is often seen when individuals are lifting beyond their true capacity. When individuals lift heavier than their ability, momentum can be utilized and therefore head and neck posture can be compromised by going into that nasty forward head position.
Practice correcting your posture during both work and exercise in order to keep your back and neck in a neutral position and avoid injury.
I urge you all to take these 3 simple exercise do’s & don’ts and incorporate them into your daily physical activity regime in order to stay injury-free!!
Please consult with your health care provider if you wish to discuss any of the above further. If you have any questions specific to this article please contact:
Teresa Agar, MScPT, BHKin
Trailside Physio – Coquitlam Clinic