Do a Body Tune Up Before Training

Consistent exercise is one of the keys to lifelong health and fitness, and exercise consistency relies (in part) on avoiding exercise related injuries. Muscle strains and joint pain squash consistency by sidelining ambitious exercisers. One way to stave off injury is being able to move well. For many people in our society, moving well requires a body tune up.

So, what exactly does it mean to move well? The ability to move joints through their full range of motion with the right alignment and control is a big part of it. For example, being able to do a squat without excessive forward lean:

Goblet Squat III

When people spend long hours sitting, as so many of us do today, muscle imbalances develop and change movement. Some muscles get tighter, some get weaker, and their function is compromised. Diving right into an exercise program under those conditions can push a person towards injury rather than better health; exactly opposite of what it should do. It’s like jumping into a car that’s been sitting idle for years and heading out cross-country without doing a tune up and oil change first. That car is probably going to break down at some point, if it even runs at all!

Almost everyone will benefit from a body tune up before starting exercise. Having a trainer screen your movement is a great way to identify your specific limitations and needs, but there are prevailing conditions that affect lots of people. Poor posture, weak core muscles and tightness around the shoulders, hips and ankles are surprisingly common.

The following series of exercises is a good general progression to follow. It should prove effective for improving muscle flexibility and core stability for most people:

1. Use a foam roller or a lacrosse ball on:

  • Feet
  • Calves
  • Thighs
  • Piriformis (Glutes)
  • Upper back
  • Chest

Hold tender spots for 30-60 seconds or do 10-15 slow rolls over tight, sensitive spots.

2. Stretch:

  • Calves
  • Quads
  • Piriformis
  • Upper back
  • Chest

Do 2-3 static stretches of 20-30 seconds each area.

3. Do core stability exercises like:

  • Bridge
  • Plank
  • Side Plank
  • Bird Dog

Start with one set of 10-15 repetitions on each exercise and build up to three sets, two to three times per week.

While it’s best to know your individual needs, this general approach should benefit most people and help reduce the risk of an injury. As always, check with your doctor prior to starting any exercise program, and see on of our trainers if you have questions. Once you have clearance, tune yourself up and hit the road to a stronger, healthier you!

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Michael Bento is an Advanced Trainer at the Clubs at Charles River Park. He holds a Masters degree in Human Movement and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist.

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