Most issues stem from poor posture and improper body alignment. So why is proper form so important and how do we align the body?
Having proper body alignment reduces stress on the body and helps you feel better. And the most important reason to maintain proper form during exercise is injury prevention. In addition, proper form is the best way to get the most out of your time and the most out of your body. More often than not, when you have proper form and alignment the exercise is tougher and maximizes your muscles.
Spinal alignment and joint alignment are crucial. Think about the muscles you are using, be aware of the exercise you are doing. If during exercise, the back begins to bow or the shoulders start to sink in, take a break. Also, another common mistake is that people lose good posture on cardio machines, so make sure your posture stays upright and be minded about keeping your shoulders back and down and your back flat. Many people do not realize that their neck aches, shoulders aches come from improper posture. So be aware, think about the exercise or task you are doing, have someone watch and guide you and watch your form during movements.
Exercise example with form: Planking.
Planking is a simple but effective bodyweight exercise. Holding the body stiff develops strength primarily in the core, as well as the shoulders, arms, and glutes. This static exercise, meaning the body stays in one position for the entirety of the move, requires no equipment, but it often is performed incorrectly. We will take the standard straight arm plank and break down proper form.
Proper straight arm plank form and alignment: plant the hands directly under the shoulders, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Ground the toes into the floor and squeeze the glutes to stabilize the body. Make sure you are not overextending your lower back. Your legs should be working in the move too. Also, be careful not to lock or hyperextend your knees. Neutralize the neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot beyond the hands. Your head should be in line with your back. Then hold the position for 20 seconds, 30 second, 1 minute. As you get more comfortable with the move, hold your plank for as long as possible without compromising form or breath.
Remember, quality trumps quantity. So when form suffers, call it quits.