Whether you are a competitive athlete in training or a person who just wants to keep fit by visiting the gym frequently, protecting your back and spine from injuries during workouts is not only the most important but your first priority. Studies found that after injuries to the hand, injuries to areas ranging from the neck to the lower back were the most common type of gym-related injuries.
Life Before the Gym
Today back injuries are the most common due to the repetitive actions that we due on a daily basis. Our lives most often consist of sitting at a desk hunched over a computer or sitting for long periods in cars or planes. These daily repetitive activities done over an extended period of time not only place a daily strain on the back but due to muscle core memory, it recreates a new posture and spinal alignment. Specialists in fitness find that when a person’s posture is rounded throughout the day in their upper back, and then they go to the gym and do an overhead shoulder lift standing, their upper back cannot extend properly. They straighten and arch upward from their lower back, which is then overloaded due to the extra stress that is placed on those discs.
Suggestions for Success
No matter what your career entails, spinal specialists and trainers alike suggest that in order to avoid injury you consider getting a qualified person who can show you the proper way of performing exercises and using the gym equipment effectively.
The most important way to maintain good spinal health is to strengthen your core muscles. These are the muscles that lend strength and support to the spine, and which tend to become weakened with the long periods of sitting.
Following are a few tips on how to use proper form when exercising or lifting weights in the gym.
- Tighten your bum – When performing a squat, deadlift, or during pushups, be sure to squeeze the muscles in your gluteus. This ensures that the muscles connecting your lumbar and sacral areas are locked so your hips and lower back move as a single unit. Otherwise there is a tendency for the lower back to curve, with the vertebral discs being exposed to more stress than they are designed to handle.
- Tighten your abs – To keep your spine from arching too much in either direction, tighten your abdominal muscles like you are preparing to be punched in the stomach. This will provide stability to the spine as you bend and lift.
- Pull your shoulders down and back – Consciously push your shoulders back and down. You should feel the muscles between your shoulder blades tighten. Practice in the mirror and to better visualize the proper position of your spine.
- Enjoy!! Most of all embrace the power of a better healthier you.
For Your Health,
Dr. Scott Van Dam