Most of us have experienced an Injury from exercise. Whether it's down to poor form or making that box jump a little higher than we are ready for ;) As much as I am a big enthusiast of pushing yourself and challenging the body, the one thing I don't like, and see a lot, is people trying their best and pushing themselves with bad technique! This is a common problem and one that can easily be avoided.
Here are a few of the most common injuries to take note of and avoid...
1) Neck pains when performing abdominal exercises: We all want that flat stomach and for some that 'six pack'. Firstly, just to clarify, incase you haven't read this before you will not get a flat stomach or six pack from crunches alone. A big part of getting lean around the waist line is down to clean eating and cardio...ab exercises will get you definition as long as your food is in check and your body fat is within a healthy range. Anyway how do you avoid neck ache? Crunches should be performed with a small abdominal movement...engage your stomach before you rise and try not to hold onto your head (this will avoid you pulling your head and causing neck ache) lift with your chest and eyes looking up towards the ceiling. Lift for 2 seconds and lower for 2 seconds keeping your lower back grounded and lifting the shoulders and chest contracting your stomach muscles. (Place your hands behind your ears if you need a bit of support but don't hold around the neck)
2) Knee pain when squatting This is very common and easily avoided. Squat technique is key so it's worth checking you are doing it correctly. Squats are one of the best exercises for weight loss and strength as it uses the major muscle groups of the body. The key muscles we need to switch on when squatting are the glutes. Most people, without realising, wont be firing their glutes whilst squatting. (My favourite PT and mentor,Jamie lea, once pointed out to me my knee pain was down to lack of glute firing!) This is mainly because, for most of us, we are sitting on our bottoms everyday and they are asleep! The best way to get the glutes firing is to do some glute activations exercise such as; glute bridges, clams and side leg raises. (YouTube will have some good demos!) Another way to get you squatting correctly is to practise squatting onto a box or backing on to some flat weights below your heels to get deeper into the squat and get the glutes working. Really focus on your glutes when you squat...engage them as you squat and think about where you want to feel the exercise working. In short...think about your bottom the whole way through!
3) Lower back pain when in plank The plank is one of the best core exercises. (When it's performed with correct technique and a strong core) If your core is weak then it is crucial not to try a plank without knowing how to hold yourself correctly. The lower back should not hurt. If you feel discomfort in your back then your core is not switching on. You should be in a straight horizontal line with a neutral spine. I see too many people dropping their bottom too low and putting pressure on the spine. Much like the squat you have to think about really engaging and contracting the abdominals. Practise getting into a plank position with the knees down and then lift to full plank for a 5 second hold and back down to get the core working without asking too much of it too soon. You can also practise a 'bird dog' (YouTube) to work on getting the core strong.
In summary. Technique is so important. Not only to protect you from injury but also to get the gains you want to see. How can you develop and define your lower body if the right muscles aren't working?! Think about doing some research yourself or better yet get in touch with us at West London Fitness so we can show you correct technique and help you get the shape you want and feel totally confident in your exercise performance. Knowledge is power people! Come and learn :)