“Hold your form!”
That sentence is one of the most common commands used by coaches and trainers as they exhort their athletes to push beyond their comfort zones. Aside from the obvious benefit of avoiding wasted motion, using proper form when exercising holds additional advantages.
“The most important reason to use and maintain proper form – especially when you’re fatigued – is to prevent injury,” says Lana Lange, PT, senior level 3 physical therapist at Saint Francis Medical Center. “Aligning the body properly enables the athlete to work less and maximize efficiency.”
Learn, Then Perform
Learning the proper technique is the key to repeating performing correctly under pressure. That applies to workouts as well as competition.
“Mastering the proper form for any movement develops muscle and motor memory,” Lange says. “Whether it is lifting weights, stretching, running or throwing a ball, training the body to use proper form is the key to preventing injury.”
Weightlifting is the activity most susceptible to causing injury because of the unusual strain it puts on the spine, muscles and joints. Using incorrect technique can cause more harm than good, especially if it means missing time to heal.
Proper technique also allows an athlete to minimize effort for the same performance level. It’s why virtually all top-level athletes appear to make their movements look so easy. Compared to athletes with lesser form, it is easier.
Make Proper Form a Habit
Competitive athletes constantly check their form to ensure they’re getting the most out of their bodies and movements. Repeating the correct technique many times makes the movement second nature, making it more likely the athlete will perform well under pressure or in times of fatigue.
“Incorrect form is very difficult to unlearn, too,” notes Lange. “That’s why it’s so important to use proper form during workouts, as well as in competition. Focusing on quality rather than quantity during a workout is the best way to ensure proper form when it counts.”
For more information about proper form for a variety of exercises, please call the Sports Medicine team at Saint Francis Medical Center at 573-331-5153.