The top ten corrective exercise cues we give daily are essential for just about every exercise possible. These 10 cues may place the body into an optimal position so that the client receives the best possible outcome, both for safety and effectiveness. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
1. Head and neck a natural extension of your spine. Avoid letting the head drop down or hyperextending your cervical spine during most exercises. When you are performing push-ups, squatting or sitting on the bike, remember this cue.
2. Shoulders relaxed, rotated back and down away from the ears in push-ups/pull-ups.
3. Rib cage lifted, navel pulled toward the spine and the pelvic floor pulled up and inward with the buttocks pulled together. Think of push-ups, planks and bridges — bracing the body to prevent lumbar hyperextension.
4. Knees relaxed. In the majority of exercises you want to avoid hyperextending any joint, particularly the knee joint. Consider any standing lower body exercise or just standing to perform an upper body exercise.
5. Slow and controlled. This ensures both safety and effectiveness and helps prevent injury.
6. Upon completion of an exercise, if you could perform one to two repetitions during muscular strength training or continue for another few seconds when performing a high intensity interval in a cycling class, then you are probably not training intensely enough. Choose external resistance, achieving momentary muscle failure by the final one/two repetitions and becoming breathless by the final second of the exertion interval.
7. Stabilize the shoulder joint. This applies specifically to exercises such as triceps kickbacks and biceps curls. If moving, the benefits diminish considerably and the shoulder may be placed in a vulnerable position leading to injury.
8. Hinge from the hip joint. This applies to lunges, squats, and deadlifts. Avoid dropping the torso, giving the illusion that you are lower than you are in reality.
9. Body weight into the heels. Again, this applies to lunges when the body weight needs to be placed into the front heel and squats when the body weight is predominately in both heels. Ask, can I wiggle my front toes when lunging and both sets of toes when squatting?
10. Breathe rhythmically. Inhale through the nose and exhale upon the exertion phase of the exercise. An easy way to remember is to exhale during the pushing or pulling phase.
Jackie Wright, owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness, LLC located in Grand Lake and the soon-to-open Mountain Life Fitness, LLC in Granby, www.neversummerfitness.com.