For many people, the start of the new year symbolizes a time to take on new challenges and adopt new practices to improve physical health and overall well-being and we want to ensure that good form is being practiced. With the rise in popularity of fitness apps and online workout programs since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, people now more than ever, are deciding to make exercise a part of their daily routine. While fitness apps can be a very powerful tool by providing motivation, accountability, and a fun experience for those new to exercise, a few basic guidelines should be followed to avoid injury and a possible premature end to your new year’s resolution.
- Always warm up and stretch prior to starting any workout – When you warm-up and stretch your body temperature rises, blood flow is elevated, and more oxygen is carried to the muscles. Increased blood circulation and higher oxygen levels boost energy, increase muscle stamina, improve range of motion, and decrease the likelihood of strains or sprains by preparing soft tissues for the exertion of exercise.
- Practice good form – Proper form is essential to avoiding injury when beginning any new training program. This is especially true if you’re new to working out. Some basic tips for performing the exercise with good form include:
- Perform the exercise slowly through a full range of motion. For example, if performing weighted bicep curls you should start with an appropriate weight that allows you to fully extend and flex your elbow. If weight is appropriate, but you are still unable to move through a full range of motion, you may need to focus on stretching tight muscles that are preventing full-motion prior to lifting.
- Perform resistance exercises with a neutral spine. To achieve a correct neutral position stand with your chest high, chin gently tucked, feet shoulder-width apart, and abdominals and glutes activated. This position protects your spine and provides a solid platform from which to safely perform resistance training.
- Use a mirror to monitor form throughout the course of your workout. Whether you are lifting weights or doing yoga, you will likely fatigue as your workout progresses and form may suffer as a result. Using a mirror that allows you to periodically check your form will assist with maintaining good posture and symmetry throughout the course of your workout.
- Listen to your body – Whether you’re a seasoned fitness veteran or brand new to working out, it is normal to feel some soreness 1-2 days after performing a strenuous workout or trying a new exercise. This sensation is usually spread out over a larger area of the body and can be alleviated through gentle stretching, resting sore areas, and maintaining good hydration. If pain is sharp, focused in a specific area, or returns quickly with exercise, the activity that is causing pain should be discontinued or modified. Rest, ice, and elevation may also be helpful. If the pain does not resolve and begins to impact daily function you may need to see a doctor or consider contacting our team at the Milliken Hand Rehabilitation Center.