When exercises are performed using improper techniques, the result can be painful on our bodies. As part of Exercise Right Week, we’ve shared 5 signs that you may need more help with your technique so you can reap the most benefits from your workouts.
1. Can you feel the exercise engaging the right muscle group?
Some exercises are designed to target a specific muscle, muscle group or multiple muscle groups. Whether that’s your quads, calves, abdominals or glutes, take a moment mid-exercise to really think about where you are feeling the activation and pressure. If you’re meant to be feeling it in your abs and glutes, but you feel tension in your lower back instead, you may be performing the movement incorrectly – and putting yourself at risk of pain or injury.
If this is happening at the gym, ask an Exercise Physiologist or a personal trainer for assistance and to examine your technique. If you’re concerned about your lower limb exercise techniques, run them by your My FootDr podiatrist at your next appointment.
2. Are you moving your body throughout the workout to positions that feel easier?
Have you ever been at a gym class or a personal training session, thinking that a plank is feeling much easier, only to be told to stop arching your back and buttocks and move your body closer to the ground to better engage your core? This is a perfect example of making adjustments to an exercise to try to make it easier to complete. Unfortunately, unlike some movements where there is a well-known and safe alternative (like going on your knees instead of your toes for a push-up), some of the adjustments we make may actually place undue strain on a different area of the body.
If you’re struggling to complete the exercise as prescribed, ask your trainer or health professional to show you a safe alternative, as well as additional exercises that will help strengthen the right muscles for you to build up to completing the regular movement.
3. Are you feeling pain during or after your workout?
If you’re experiencing any discomfort or pain during exercise, stop the movement that is causing the pain immediately. The next step is to understand what caused the pain and why – especially if it is linked to your exercise technique.
The best way to do this for any lower limb pain is to see your My FootDr podiatrist. They’ll be able to identify the specific painful muscle and check the exercises you’ve been doing to help determine the cause – as well as assess a range of biomechanical factors including foot posture, muscle strength and muscle tightness. The goal is to not only help you recover from any injury, but also prevent the problem from happening again in the future.
4. Are your movements controlled?
There’s a difference between using momentum to move your body or shift a kettlebell from side to side in any path that it will easily go, and controlling your movements to keep the right muscles engaged and the weights where they need to be.
If you’re completing your exercise by letting the movement take you wherever it naturally goes, instead of carefully performing the movement using the right technique, then you may be performing the exercise incorrectly.
5. Are you not seeing the results you want in a reasonable timeframe?
If you’ve been performing all your sets regularly but aren’t seeing a difference in your endurance, strength or flexibility, then there may be something wrong with your technique. The best thing you can do for your progress is to ask your health practitioner or personal trainer to go through the exercises with you again.
As podiatrists that prescribe a large number of strengthening, stretching and rehabilitation programs for our patients as part of their recovery or for optimum performance, we can guarantee that we love it when patients take care in getting their technique right! We take the time to guide them through every movement, watch them complete it and teach them how to optimise their efforts.