Proper exercise techniques prevent injuries, boost health benefits

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, January 21, 2016

From time to time I have other personal trainers come to me to sharpen their trainer’s skills. Even to them I need to stress the importance of incorporating proper exercise techniques and how that should best be performed at home, the weight room or gym. This is a must at any age or fitness level for several reasons.

First, if exercise is done correctly there’s much less chance of injury. The greater share of exercise related injuries don’t happen in dramatic fashion. Most begin with just a twinge that doesn’t feel right, and then gets worse.

Another reason I teach and use proper exercise form is progress. If exercises aren’t performed correctly, you won’t get desired results. Also, when you exercise incorrectly, whether using free weights, exercise bands, machines, or any exercise equipment, you emphasize the wrong muscles, or worse, you put too much pressure on your joints.

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You see, any exercise movement, whether it be weight training or aerobic, even running, involves pressure on two areas of the body, the muscles and the joints. The goal should be to take pressure off the joints and put it on muscles.

Weight training exercises may look simple, but can actually be very complex. Whether, I’m teaching clients, groups, or other personal trainers, I show them how many pieces there are to a particular exercise, how those pieces influence parts of the body, then how to best put all the exercise pieces together. That culminates into the proper exercise routine.

Just what kind of difference can it make? I often show how just ΒΌ inch (that’s not much, is it?) difference in an exercise movement can triple results derived from that same exercise performed the usual way. In fact, did you know that just breathing correctly when doing abdominal exercises will more than double your rate of toning those abs?

I tell clients that every exercise I put in their routine is to prepare them for yet another exercise.

There’s no such thing as the perfect exercise routine forever. Your body will eventually adjust to the encumbrance, and stop making the same progress. Exercise routines must be changed. The key is knowing when and how to change them.

Yet another reason to learn proper exercise form is when someone has learned exercises incorrectly, their body gets used to it. The way they initially learn any exercise movement, correct or incorrect, is chemically etched in their brain. This makes it more difficult to relearn (if you will) new, proper exercise form.

Don’t worry though, if you’ve been exercising in a way that doesn’t support you, you can learn how to do it properly. By learning proper fitness techniques, you’ll enjoy exercising more too. You’ll be much more stable, and able to be more aggressive (within your limits), having the confidence in your ability to perform exercises well.

So, just how do we go about learning how to exercise the proper way? First, let’s go over what not to do. Don’t learn by copying someone else in the gym, no matter how fit they are. It takes years, even after education, to learn how to teach proper exercise technique.

Don’t get your sole exercise knowledge from television, because you can’t get answers to questions you might have. Don’t get your training intelligence from books or magazines for the same reason.

I recommend you contact an exercise professional. Sit with them and express your goals, concerns, and limitations. When they implement your program, ask questions and take notes. Be sure to tell them when something doesn’t feel right during your exercise sessions. Learn proper exercise form and you might just become an expert exerciser.

To the readers of the Tryon Daily Bulletin and my column, thank you for all the great questions and emails. Every couple of years, to thank everyone, I usually hold a nutrition/fitness seminar, but this year we’re going to do something special. I’m going to conduct a grocery store tour. We’re all going to meet at a local grocery store and I’m going to show you how to navigate its isles, what foods to choose first, what foods not to choose, what to look for on produce labels, how to plan healthful meals, how to read food labels, best weight loss foods and maybe show you bad foods you thought were good, and good foods you thought were bad. It’s going to be a lot of fun. The tour will be free, but you must sign up at my email. I’ll give more details during the next two weeks.

Diet or exercise question? Email me at David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 29 years. He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC Upstate baseball team, the S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, and the Converse College equestrian team. He served as a water safety instructor to the United States Marine Corps, lead trainer for L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught four semesters at USC Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.