Recently I had a minor back injury. As part of coping with my injury I talked about it with my friends; expressing my frustration and feeling heard for my internal/unseen pain.
I also had the pleasure of discussing exercise injuries with a health and wellness colleague of mine, Atlanta-based personal trainer Shimon Weissman.
Here is what he had to say…
Gila: What do you think is the cause of exercise injuries?
Shimon: One reason is form. When we do not pay attention to doing the exercise in its proper form, we may actually end up doing more harm than good. It could also be that the exercise isn’t right for you. Or, sometimes the exercise itself is flawed.
Gila: I can so relate. This past week I knew I was doing one of my Pilates exercises with poor form, but I pushed through it anyway. And look where it got me…
Can you discuss that more?
Shimon: Sure. It’s important to focus on the muscle that is supposed to be exercised. Targeting the correct muscle, instead of using other surrounding muscles to compensate, prevents injury as well as enhances muscle growth. For example, in that specialized squat I just showed you, it’s important to focus on the glutes of the standing leg. Focusing on the right muscle is key. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said he doesn’t listen to music when he exercises, because he is keenly focusing on the muscles he is working.
Gila: That’s so interesting. My Pilates training also emphasized no music during the exercises for similar reasons—also, since the exercises contain their own inherent rhythm. Regarding the importance of form in an exercise—what if you are trying to do a certain exercise and you find it is difficult to get into the correct position?
Shimon: Then doing an exercise in its original form is NOT recommended. Rather, you want to utilize a modification—so you can perform the exercise in a way that works for your individual body, and not force yourself into a position that your body is not ready to do. Or, even better, you can do a completely different exercise that you will benefit from more, and do stretches to help heal the problem area.
Gila: How do I know how to modify an exercise?
Shimon: That’s where a personal trainer comes in. We can guide you in how to perform the exercise in a way that fits your unique body and levels of conditioning and fitness. Or, we can teach you an exercise that is more suitable for you.
Gila: That sounds great! Even as a Pilates and yoga instructor myself, I know that when I am doing my own exercises, I could surely use an expert outside opinion to keep me grounded and mindful about how I am exercising. It may have even prevented my injury last week!