Working out is a key ingredient in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In order to keep your body happy and healthy, it’s crucial to put in those valuable gym hours. While some of us have been lucky enough to have one-on-one instruction with personal trainers or coaches, most of us learned our gym moves from YouTube, a slightly more experienced gym buddy, or a random guy you observed cranking out deadlifts while you waited for a free machine. In other words, your form may not always be pristine. While this can do as little as simply keeping you from benefitting from a workout, improper form can also result in some serious injuries. In order to make sure you don’t suffer this fate, check out this round-up of some of the most exercise moves that cause injury, and how to execute them correctly.
Planks are by far one of the best workout moves if you’re looking to achieve flat abs. But planking just for the sake of planking can be problematic. According to Men’s Fitness, when you do planks for excessive periods of time, your form can majorly suffer. This includes head pushed forward, shoulders bunched up by the ears, lower back sagging, and shoulder blades collapsing. When your form suffers, the chances of getting injured drastically increase. Rather than planking until your body gives out, go for a more challenging plank to maximize your ab-potential, such as one-arm or side planks.
2. Weighted Side Bends
Consider cutting weighted side bends — the move where you bend sideways with a weight in hand — out of your routine entirely. Men’s Fitness cautions that this move can put strain on your spine by putting excessive force on it laterally, especially with a weight in tow. Instead, Men’s Fitness recommends trying this move: grasp a dumbbell in one hand and keep it down by your side. Then walk around the room, focusing on keeping your arm steady and shoulders squared the entire way.
Deadlifts can be the ultimate way to strengthen the entire back of your body. If done correctly, that is. Livestrong cautions that cranking out reps of deadlifts with improper form can easily cause lower-back injuries and chronic pain. These injuries can occur if you allow your back to lean too far forward, which causes an immense amount of stress on your spine. However, if you use correct form, this stress is distributed through the vertebrae, keeping you injury free. Follow these tips from Muscle and Fitness to complete a perfect deadlift.
4. Overhead Squat
While this move can be a fantastic full-body workout, it can also cause full-body injury if not executed correctly, reports CNN. If you don’t have adequate mobility in your hips, knees, and ankles, this extreme-squat can quickly become dangerous. The added strain of an overhead weight can be harmful to your shoulders, cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions if executed incorrectly. CNN advises taking this move slow as soon as you notice any compromising of your form. If you notice your back is arching or your knees are driving past your toes, then it’s time to stop. If this happens before you can execute more than a few reps, it’s probably best to stick with different exercise options.
Lunges are a staple move when you’re looking to tone your glutes and thighs. But if you let your knees go past your toes, it could be a recipe for disaster, says Shape Magazine. This misstep puts excessive pressure on the front of your knee, which can lead to knee pain and injury. For proper form, your knees should move in the same direction as your toes, then make sure to lunge all the way to the floor, and then drive through your front heel as you stand up.