Correct form and posture may be something you’re used to hearing about from your gym coach or personal trainer, but you can count your chiropractor in on the discussion too. Whether you are lifting weights, doing calisthenic exercises, or just going for a walk, how you hold your body and use your muscles and joints to move can greatly impact your overall health and function. The more you practice proper form, the stronger and more balanced your body will become, and the fewer chiropractic adjustments and sports massage treatments you will need. And while your chiropractor loves to see you, the idea is to train you to adjust your own posture and form so that you can enjoy fewer visits each year.
Those who work to improve their form during not just workouts, but daily activities, report fewer injuries, less overall pain, and better stamina. When your spine, joints, and muscles are all working properly, you will enjoy greater range of movement, more strength, and set yourself up for a lifetime of vitality and independence. So the next time you are heading to the gym, or out for a hike, or even sitting at your computer, here are a few things your chiropractor would like you to tune in to!
1. Pay attention to your joint angles
This is especially important during high-impact movements where there is a lot of stress and pressure on the joint itself. If you are doing lunges or squats, it’s important to make sure your knee joint does not extend past the line of your toes. And when you are in a pushup position, tucking the shoulder blades tight along the back and relaxing the shoulders away from the ears (not “hunching”), and placing your hands directly in line with your shoulder joint are all important tips to avoiding injury. If you are taking part in activities like yoga, fitness classes, or swim classes, listen carefully to your instructor for direction on proper form, and don’t hesitate to ask for an adjustment if you aren’t sure.
2. Pay attention to your breathing
America has a serious bad-breathing epidemic, and most of that is directly correlated with poor posture. We’ve become a society of hunched shoulders, strained necks, and compressed spines, thanks to the hours we spend in front of computers and craning over our smart phones. The thing is, our physical posture determines how well we are able to breathe and bring in fresh oxygen to our tissues. A straight spine, with shoulders gently down and back, and chin level and relaxed is the key to optimal breathing, and thus better oxygenation, a clearer mind, and a stronger torso. Many of us struggle with tension in our necks and shoulders, so it’s worth working with a chiropractor and sports massage specialist to work out the knots and practice healthy upright posture.
3. Pay attention to hot spots
The human body is an incredible and resilient machine, capable of thousands of different movements and activities. But no matter what your activity may be, pain and strain should not be just dealt with or “pushed through”. Yes, some initial soreness is to be expected when learning a new movement, but any pain beyond that could be a sign that something is out of alignment. Pain, warmth, tenderness, and tingling sensations are your body’s way of communicating that something is off, so take the time to check in with your form and posture. If you are experiencing persistent discomfort in a certain area, check with a coach, trainer, physical therapist, or chiropractor to figure out how to correct your movement to avoid any future pain or injury.