I have people ask me this question a lot especially if I am correcting them as they do a specific exercise. Why do I have to do it this way? This way is harder for me to do it. It’s easier if I do it this way. These are just some of the things my patients say during their time with me. Now I’m all for doing something a certain way if it is easier and more efficient. But when it comes to exercise there is some form that we all must follow. So why is it so important that we follow proper form while doing exercise? And what can happen if we don’t?
Injury prevention: this is the number one reason why form during exercise is important. If you continue to do an exercise incorrectly, you run the risk of injury. In my world of physical therapy most people that come to see me are already injured or have some form of pain. The last thing we want to do is cause another problem.
Efficiency: with proper form comes efficiency. We all want to be efficient with things because this makes things work more smoothly, it saves time and helps to not overwork yourself. Being efficient with exercise allows our body to adjust quicker and avoid fatigue. This, in turn, will prevent injury as we talked about above.
Accessory muscle use: if proper form is not used this can cause you to use accessory muscles. These muscles are the ones that start to kick in if the other is either too weak or your form is not correct. The best example I can give is when someone is doing a bicep curl with a barbell. If the weight is too heavy or their biceps are just weaker they start to rock their back and extend back and forth. This causes them to start using muscles in their back and increases risk of injury. My advice is always quality reps increased weight. It’s better to do 20 quality reps with a lighter weight than 10 reps of heavy weight with poor form.
Increased joint mobility: form plays a role in mobility of our joints. Deep squats for instance, are a great example. Deep squats are an excellent exercise to get more mobility in your hips, knees and ankles. If the goal is to increase the mobility in those joints then this exercise is for you. But if we decide to just do squats to 90 degrees of knee flexion this could cause a decrease in the mobility of the hips because they are not going through that entire range of motion. Now mini squats and squats to 90 are great for strengthening but if you want increased mobility this will cause those structures to tighten and not allow for full mobility. In turn, causing you limitation and sometimes pain.
As I tell all of my patients. I am not interested in how much weight that you can do or how many reps. I just want you to have proper form while doing your program.
As most of you know that read my posts my son plays travel baseball and I’m a coach on the team. Lately it has taken over my life, and I’m okay with that because I enjoy it so much! But I keep finding different reasons to talk about it because these kids show me something different each week. As with all 9 year olds there is an up and down attitude about them each day, week and month. One day they look like super stars out there and nothing can stop them. The next day they look like they are back in T-ball again. This past weekend was one of those weekends where you wondered how they would respond after the events that took place.
We played in a tournament called the Battle of the Boarder in Youngstown Ohio. Leading up to the weekend we knew that competition was going to be very good. 2 teams in particular were going to be there. Beaver Valley Red and West Hills. The last time we played West hills they beat up on us pretty badly. By about 13 runs to be exact! It wasn’t pretty, but our kids had bounced back in the next tournament they played in to take 2nd place. We were in a different bracket then either team and were set to face 2 teams we had never played. The day before the tournament started one dropped out and our schedule changed. Now we were scheduled to play Beaver Valley. I was excited to see how our kids matched up against them since we had never played them before. Once the kids heard that was who they were playing that’s all they talked about. They obsessed about it actually! And it was not in a good way. The game started and we walked the first batter, not a good start! Nerves were probably going crazy for most, but we managed to get 2 outs and the score was only 1-0. Then all hell broke loose! We committed 6 errors giving up 12 runs in the first inning! After the first inning it was 12-0! How does this happen? Little things like catching the ball before trying to throw it. Balls going through their legs, and coming in on fly balls instead of stepping back first. All things our kids do very well most of the time. Their nerves got the best of them. Needless to say the game ended in 4 innings after losing 18-1. We lost the second game 12-6 against another team we had never played mostly due to mistakes and kids just not being in the game. It was tough to watch and hard to talk to the boys afterwards. Sunday would tell us what type of team we have and how they respond.
The next morning the kids warmed up and you could tell they were more lively and upbeat. They started out strong and lead most of the game until the bottom of the 5th giving up 2 runs to be down 5-4. The kids battled that last inning but couldn’t find a way to get another run. We lost that game, but showed great resilience and determination to come back after getting the crap beat out of us the day before. It was great to see how our boys responded.
I wanted to share this with you all because there are always going to be times in life and in physical therapy that you are going to want to quit. Things are just going to get too hard for you and giving up seems to be the easiest thing to do. I know because I have felt like quitting before. My first 2 weeks of PT school I almost quit! I felt that it was going to be too hard and too much for me to handle. I was sick of school at that point and now I was going to have to go for an additional 3 years! I went home that weekend and thought about it a lot. I kept telling myself I could go and get a job for a little while and figure it out. Then I realized that I committed to doing this and this was what I felt passionate about. I’m so glad that I decided to continue my journey. Just know that it’s normal to want to just give up when things are tough and not going your way. It’s the way you respond and show resilience that makes all the difference.
I am one of the coaches of my son’s travel baseball team. My son is almost 9 and it’s his first full year of kid pitch travel baseball. He has played with most of the kids on his team since he was 4. They all started out on a rec team together. Year to year you can see the improvement. Constant practice and playing for most of the year is our life right now. It’s so much different than when I was a kid. I played a lot of baseball, but only from April till August. These kids started in November and will play until the end of summer. Constant practice and games keep these kids consistent. They stay focused by doing things on a regular basis and it shows. Most of the things that we succeed at in life are done on a regular basis. We make a habit of them and they become a constant.
This past weekend we had another tournament for baseball. We played very well in pool play to earn the second seed to start the playoff/championship round. Sunday afternoon we were set to play the same team we beat the day before 5-4. It was a close game, but we played flat that game. The kids seemed pretty upbeat at the beginning of this game, but it didn’t start out the way we wanted it to. My son started the game pitching and was a little off with his location. He ended up giving up a 2 run home run in the 1st inning. Luckily we got out of it without going down by any more runs. He was down, but his teammates encouraged him as well as all of the coaches after getting out of the inning. The kids were off and losing most of the game. We entered the second to last inning down 7-3. The kids battled this inning getting timely hits and staying disciplined at the plate scoring 4 runs to tie it up! We would have scored 1 more if it wasn’t for me running my son into an out at third after a nice 2 run double. The last inning comes and the other team scored 2 runs to make it 9-7. Things just were not going our way. The rain came off and on and it was just a miserable feeling. The kids did not seem defeated though. They have been in this situation before! This is what they practice for each and every week. We ended up with bases loaded and 2 outs, a situation every athlete wants to be in! As a kid we always played and yelled out 2 outs bottom of the 9th bases loaded down by 1!. So who steps up to the plate? My son steps into the box ready and focused. First pitch is thrown and he swings out of his shoes! He was pumped up for this! I yell down from 3rd where I was coaching and tell him to relax, because a hit scores two! Next pitch comes and boom! He smokes this ball high in the air towards left center field. I knew it was gonna at least score two right? Then it keeps going and going and I yell “GET OUT OF HERE!” And the ball sailed over the fence! You would have thought I hit the ball because I was jumping up and down like a little kid screaming! As my son rounded 3rd he had the biggest smile on his face and it’s a moment I will never forget and cherish forever! I’m getting chills right now just typing this! The kids went crazy and it was just a great moment to be a part of! They won the game!
These kids never cease to amaze me! They showed me something that day that will always stick with me. Putting in the work and staying consistent will always pay off in the end. They never gave up on each other and they never quit. Even when my son gave up a home run in the first inning he kept his composure and stayed focused. Every single one of them contributed to that great victory!
I always like to bring things back to a situation related to physical therapy or situations in life in general. If we stay consistent with anything in life we are going to make our situation better. If we practice at something or make a habit of doing something on the regular it’s proven that you have a better chance of success. If you are trying to be more healthy then make a commitment to stick with a new way of eating and doing some sort of physical activity weekly. Do these things at the same time and same day to make a habit and stay consistent. When you make an appointment to come to physical therapy stick to it and commit to the full length of treatment sessions. Do your program at home and stay consistent. It’s proven to work because I saw it first hand this past weekend.
Everyone wants to loose weight at some point in their life. Some people have struggled their whole lives trying to figure out the magical ingredient to lose that unwanted poundage that has taken over their midsection. Losing weight and keeping it off is a huge challenge. It’s just not easy for a lot of people, including myself. I have patients come into my office with lower back pain, knee pain, hip pain and they are overweight. Most of the time they will say “If I could just lose some weight I know it would help with my pain problems.” Or “I want to lose weight because I know it will help, but my pain prevents me from exercising.” If you ask most people will tell you that if they don’t exercise they have a hard time losing weight. Is this really true? If we limited our physical activity, would this effect our ability to lose weight? Does the way we eat have anything to do with our ability to lose weight?
Exercise has great benefits for your body. It strengthens muscles, helps your cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure and helps you release the chemical Serotonin the “feel good” chemical of the body. This helps your mood change after a workout. Have you ever felt lousy after a workout? I would probably say no! The bottom line is that exercise makes you feel better, boosts your health and it also can be fun. Exercise helps burn calories, which in turn helps you lose weight right? If we burn more calories than we take in then in turn we lose weight. This equation works well, but it wont last for long if all we are doing is an insane workout routine.
Our eating habits can also help with weight lose. People tend to say “I can’t have that I’m dieting!” Or “I am on this diet for the next 4 weeks to get down to my beach body!” Crash diets are just that…they crash! If you decide to start counting your calories and follow the newest “fad” diet plan it might work for a few weeks or maybe a month. Eventually it will catch up to you, especially when you start to eat the same old stuff you used to. Most people will have short term success with these type of diets and leave them saying “I have tried dieting and I just can’t seem to lose the weight.”
So what is it that most of us are doing wrong that is causing us to either not lose weight? Or gaining it back after we have lost it? The short answer is we are relying solely on either exercise alone or some fad diet plan. I suggest to patients that they should try and follow the 80/20 rule. 80% food intake and 20% exercise. Most people would think it should be the opposite. But to lose weight and keep it off for the long haul there is a balance that needs to happen and food is usually the main culprit. Changing the way we eat has such a huge effect on the way we can lose weight, get healthy and stay healthy. If you continue to workout like crazy and not get the proper nutrition you are just being counterproductive. You can’t use exercise as your primary source to lose weight. There has to be some sort of balance both ways.
What I suggest for people to do is first get away from those processed foods and sugar! Sodium alone keeps weight on and those foods are packed with it. Usually I will tell people to fill half of their plate with vegetables. Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, spinach, artichokes, asparagus are just a few that I like. You only need about a fist full of protein on your plate and a palm full of your starches such as brown rice or yams. Getting fat in your diet is also recommended. Just make sure it’s good fat. I eat at least 1 avocado a day. Try and eat cleaner foods and drink lots of water. In order to stay fully hydrated throughout the day you should drink half you body weight in ounces per day. This can also help your body stay full and not hungry. Sometimes when you think you are hungry you are really dehydrated. Exercise 3 times per week is plenty for about 25-30 minutes. You can do more if you would like. It’s totally up to you.
These are all suggestions that you can try. I am by no means a nutritional expert or a dietitian. I am solely going by experience alone and what has worked for me. As with all things new I recommend to do this for at least a 6-8 week period to really see results. Let me know how it goes!