The Straw that Broke the Lifter’s Back

When it comes to exercise, is it really important to pay attention to proper technique?

 

Yes.

 

Or to maintain an emphasis on alignment?

 

Yes it is.

 

But why?  What is the value of having good form?

 

Because (a) we adapt to what we’re constantly exposed to, and (b) it’s only a matter of time until bad form catches up to us….

 

To help illustrate the first point, we adapt to what we’re constantly exposed to, let’s take the classic example of “poor posture”: rounded shoulders and upper back, plus forward head posture.  We don’t just end up this way, incidentally, instead it is a result of consistently and frequently being a certain way; i.e. sitting at our computers 💻, driving 🚗, etc.

When our body accumulates significant time in a particular position, eventually we adapt to it.

Likewise, with exercise, the same process will occur.  If we constantly perform push-ups wrong, squat, deadlift or lunge poorly, incorrectly utilize our core, breathe improperly, or tackle an exercise too advanced without proper progression, our bodies will adapt to any faulty and/or contraindicated movements or  patterns we’re exposed to.

Whether it’s good for us, or bad for us, we simply become really good at how we get things done. ✅

 

Which brings me to the second point: it’s only a matter of time until bad form catches up to us…

In the moment, moving with poor form may not register as something bad.  It doesn’t necessarily hurt while it’s happening, we may be aware of a little discomfort, but negligible, otherwise we’d stop 🛑.  But with high volume and repetition, poor form will eventually create imbalances, which can eventually lead to injury, or insidious chronic pain.

Imagine someone lightly tapping you on your shoulder with a finger 👈🏽, almost imperceptibly, but rapidly, repeatedly, and without break.

At first… it’s little more than an annoyance…⏱️

Weeks pass… and it becomes agitating… ⏱️

Months go by… and a large bruise appears and grows… ⏱️

Until finally, with enough time… it becomes damaging 🤕.

 

With this in mind, let’s consider a few movement discrepancies commonly seen in the gym:

 

 

  • Squats or lunges with a hip shift and/or internal hip rotation and/or valgus knee pattern (knees falling inward).  Initially, this may not feel like much, but over time, the knees and/or hips get a little cranky from compounding wear and tear, until it’s too painful to do these and other movements.
  • Deadlifting with a flexed (rounded) back.  Maybe you can get away with it for years 😬, but every rep a disc may be making a micro move to jump ship, until that one rep… pop! 💥 Out goes the back.
  • The chicken-head-pelvis-push-up 🐔.  This is a “push-up” with a dropped head, shoulder dip, and sway back – basically, gravity is winning at sucking you toward Earth 🌎.  Sure, maybe you can bang out 30-50 reps on command, but at what cost?  Rep after rep, this form will exacerbate the same posture that we succumb to at our desks.
  • Overhead press 🏋️‍♂️ variations with an overarched/compressed low back.   Too often, an overhead press is performed before it’s available; i.e. overhead pressing requires a significant amount of shoulder and thoracic mobility, plus core control, which many initially lack.   When we can’t get our arms overhead, a typical compensation pattern is to upwardly rotate the ribcage and extend the low back.  This can lead to a cranky low back (to say the least), chronic back/shoulder pain, or worse.

These are just a few basic examples, but there are countless ways to move the body, and as many ways to move it incorrectly.

That said, bad form can be sneaky, and when an injury arises, it may not even be the apparent culprit.  We may lift poorly for years and never actually hurt ourselves while performing said exercise, only to suffer an injury while doing something seemingly unrelated or trivial, like picking a pencil off the floor…  ✏️

Well, that’s just  “the straw that broke the lifters back” 🐪.

Although we were made “fit” by these sloppy sets and reps, seemingly unscathed, in actuality it was the compounding nature of these exact bad habits in the gym that led us to our injurious demise!  However, it’s often the “incident” in which the injury took place, the catalyst, that gets the blame – injustice! ⚖️

In the end, when it comes to movement, meticulous attention to the quality of that movement is imperative.

If there’s dysfunction, we need to correct it, otherwise it’s just dysfunctional fitness.

But that’s the fun part! 😀

Always be on the watch for movement discrepancies, be mindful of your movement, learn from and refine your movement.  And if you’re unsure how, consult a professional who knows.

Our fitness today is an investment in our future – always have in mind lasting and sustainable health, let your pursuit of fitness become a practice vs. an execution.   

 

Just Sayin’. jared

 

 

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