Using Good Form in your Daily Life
By: Adam Sparks MS, Ed, CSCS
Sports Performance Coach
Total Performance Training Center - Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists, P.C.
You're at the gym, and you want to make sure all of your lifts have good form. Maybe you hire a trainer, have your lifting partner check you out, or take videos of your lifts. Everyone wants to have good form in the gym because it's the safest way to lift heavy weights. What about when you're NOT at the gym? What about how you sit at work, at school, in the car, or at home? If you're sitting hunched over at your office desk looking at your computer screen or phone, laying like a goober on the couch (I say this because I'm very guilty of this one), sitting with one leg under you, standing with all your weight on one leg with your hip flared out to the side...these are poor postures. Now, add in near-constant cell phone use and "text neck" and we're wreaking havoc on our bodies.
If you're making sure your form is good while you're in the gym, why aren't you doing the same and doing a form check in your daily life? You're only in the gym a few hours each week, so paying attention to what you do outside the gym, can pay huge dividends to how well we move and feel in the gym. If you spent 1 hour at the gym every day of the week, this accounts for only 4% of the week. The other 96% of your week is going to have a larger impact on how well you move and feel compared to the 4% in which you consciously made an effort to maintain good form and posture.
As society has advanced, we have become more sedentary as a whole. More and more people spend countless hours sitting at work, at school, and at home. Imagine sitting 8 hours at a desk at work or school, 1 hour at lunch, 4 hours of watching TV (average American watches over 5 hours per day) when you get home, and 1 hour for dinner and your 30 minute commute each way. You're sitting over 62% of the day! Add in 7 hours for sleep and you're up to 91% of the day with little to no movement!
I've had talks with adults and athletes about nagging injuries and focusing on improving posture outside of the gym. Pay attention to how you're sitting, standing, and laying. Think about how you sleep. Odds are, you're compromising your posture even while you're sleeping. Do you ever wake up with low back pain and feel tight? Yup, you slept wrong. Stuck sitting at a computer for hours each day? I bet you have upper back and neck "tightness" or pain and a cranky low back as well.
Having increased levels of movement in life will lead to a greater overall efficiency in movement. If you move well, you typically have fewer nagging aches and pains. These are ideas that trainers and coaches are incorporating into their programming. If you're a client or athlete of mine and you sit all day I'm going to start your sessions off with some thoracic mobility, neck, and hip drills. I want to open you up after you've been closed off and hunched over all day.
A lack of mobility has been found to result in decreased muscle size and muscle strength as we age. On the flip side, improved hip mobility, dynamic balance, and lumbar strength has been found to be positively associated to a decreased risk of falls and improved balance ability in older adults.
To be able to continue enjoying life, we need to regain our resilient bodies The first step to achieving this is to move more often and with a purpose. Working on improving your posture will help to protect your spine and help eliminate some of those nagging injuries.
I'm a huge fan of Original Strength and their book Pressing Reset. The short version of what these guys do is going back to foundational movement patterns (rocking, rolling, crawling, just how a baby does) to get the body moving more efficiently. We use some exercises inspired from OS in our warm-ups at Total Performance Training Center as well as incorporate them into an athlete’s programs. This not only helps ensure they’re moving well but, also helps build a more resilient athlete.
What are some things you can do to help with this?
Instead of watching a 30 minute TV show, take a 30 minute walk. Walking is a reset for the body, but NOT when you're holding your phone at your chest with your neck bent forward to look at it. Let your arms swing! Your body will thank you!
Walk around barefoot as often as possible and show your feet some love with a lacrosse ball and trying to move your toes around.
Get up and move around or stretch for a couple of minutes at least every 30 minutes
Add soft tissue work in 1 or 2 times a day. Lacrosse ball your feet, pecs, upper traps. Foam roll your quads, hamstrings, adductors, IT band, glutes, lats, lower back and upper back.
1. Reid, K., Pasha, E., Doros, G., Clark, D., Patten, C., Phillips, E., Frontera, W., & Fielding, R., (2014). Longitudinal decline of lower extremity muscle power in healthy and mobility-limited older adults: Influence of muscle mass, strength, composition, neuromuscular activation and single fiber contractile properties. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 114, 29-40.
2. Emilio Martinez-Lopez, E.J., Hita-Contreras, F., Jumnez-Lara, P.M., Latorre-Roman, P., & Martinez-Amat, A., (2014). The association of flexibility, balance, and lumbar strength with balance ability: Risk of falls in older adults. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 13, 349-357.