Common exercises for runners done with incorrect form can cause more damage than you anticipate, cautions Protima Tiwary.
You’ve decided to get into shape, you are all set to hit the gym, you’ve got your workout gear in place, and you’re all charged up to sweat it out. Great job! Take a pause and congratulate yourself, because it takes a lot of willpower and determination to get started too!
Now that you’re here, we’re sure you’ll be expecting results. It takes time, a lot of hard work, a great diet, and most importantly, the right form, to see the strength in your body grow. If your form is wrong, not only will you struggle to see results, but also increase your chances of injury! While you might have trainers and coaches around you to correct your form, there will be times when you might be alone. Luckily for you, there is a way of checking if you’re doing an exercise right.
Here is a list of some of the most common exercises that people get wrong (even after years of training!) Minimise your chances of injury and maximise results with these form checks:
Mistake – Dipping hips. The dip in your back is what causes your lower back muscles to hurt.
Correction – Lie down horizontally, then lift your body off the mat in a straight line. Squeeze your glutes, and lift your hips so that your head, hips and heels are all in the same line.
Mistake– Flaring elbows too far away from the body (this causes shoulder injury in the long run), not going down fully, bending the hips up and down instead of the body, forehead touching the ground before the chest,
Correction– Plant your feet together, with your palms almost as wide as your shoulder width. When you push yourself up, only your palms and feet should be touching the floor. Make sure you’re coming up straight. Go down slowly, making your chest reach the floor first.
Bent Over Rows
Mistake– rounding your back, curling your wrists as you pull back the weight, moving your hips (excessively)
Correction– Stand with your feet as wide apart as your shoulders, bend at the knees and bend forward from your hips (like a hinge movement done with knees bent) You will now be at an angle of 45° to the ground. The bar should be below your knees, and your back and neck should be straight. Pull the bar into your lower chest, with the elbows moving into your body, pointing upward.
Mistake– gripping the bar wide, not contracting the core, doing a fast up and down movement.
Correction– Maintain a shoulder grip at the bar, contract your core (and glutes) to maintain a neutral spine, and push your chest out a little. Your elbows should be pointing to the ground (not to the back) When you lift the bar up, move your head slight back while maintain the straight upper body form. Once on top of your head, bring it down slowly till your chest with your elbows pointing straight down.
Hanging Leg Raises
Mistake– swinging of the legs, swinging of the body, lifting legs only halfway.
Correction– Hold on to the bar, and make sure your body isn’t moving. After stabilising yourself, lift your legs as high as you can (keep the legs straight) If you are just starting out, bend your legs and try getting your knees as close to your chest as possible. If you have a strong core and grip and wish to increase the difficulty level, try touching your toes to the bar that you’re holding (without bending your leg of course)
Mistake– swinging the upper body while doing the curls, curling the wrists too, not bringing the weight down fully.
Correction– Focus on using only the biceps. Stand (or sit) straight, place our arms at your side and lock the elbows into your body. Now slowly pull the weight up, and lower it without moving your elbow out of it’s position. In order to keep the forearm out of this movement, leave your wrists a little loose. When you lower the weight, make sure your arm is fully extended.
These exercises are the most common ones that almost everyone does while training, and more often than not the correct form is ignored. The injuries might develop after a long time of doing the exercise in an incorrect form, but why wait for an injury when you can prevent it and learn slowly? Progress is slow, you need to be patient, and if you’ve been working hard and using the correct form, the results are bound to show.