Injury prevention tends to be a higher priority among exercisers with more experience than among the eager and the young.
It takes a few sideliners for most of us to recognize the value of exercise that keeps us safe, as opposed to more obvious objectives like weight loss or cardiovascular improvement.
This week, I’ll present some key tips for maximizing the injury prevention aspect of your training program. In addition, I’ll introduce an exercise that challenges an often-injured part of the body.
Preventing injuries is a vastly underappreciated benefit of keeping up a physically active life. The musculoskeletal system quickly falls out of balance when no effort is made to the contrary. Muscle strains, chronic pain and joint dysfunction are just a few of the many problems that are more prevalent among sedentary people.
The good news is that regular physical activity can help reduce one’s risk for most of those injuries.
On the other hand, the risk increases if an exercise program is approached with the wrong focus or intensity level. Too much is almost as bad as too little.
The first thing to remember is that patience is a virtue. While cliche, this statement is particularly relevant when approaching an exercise program aimed at injury prevention. Too many people start running when they should be walking. They grab the heaviest dumbbell they can find and perform a movement that they have not done before.
Such activity actually heightens the chance of injury, even though the intention is the opposite.
The exercises selected in a program focused on injury prevention can be similar to a traditional workout program, or they might be very different. The variance lies in the injuries we are trying to prevent. If preventing lower back pain is our focus, the program will include a multitude of core exercises along with some flexibility training.
A program targeting knee health will include a healthy amount of cardiovascular work along with lower-body strength training.
The key is to match your exercises to your focus areas.
This week’s exercise is a perfect addition for a program targeting the prevention of lower back pain, and it fits into a general fitness program, too. The Bent Over Concentration Curl requires perfect posture, which will challenge the lower back in a safe, but effective way.
1. Select a pair of light- or medium-weight dumbbells.
2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding one dumbbell in each hand.
3. Lean forward at the waist while keeping the lower back flat.
4. Slightly soften the knees.
5. Allow both arms to extend in front of your body with the palms facing forward.
6. Curl the weights upward with both arms by bending the elbows. Make sure you do not allow the elbows to slide back toward the torso as you do the curl.
7. Slowly lower back down and then perform consecutive repetitions at a smooth pace until you’ve done 12.
8. Perform two sets.
The key to performing this exercise correctly is to “scoop” the lower back by pressing the tailbone to the sky and maintaining a “chest out” posture. This will ensure the lower back muscles are properly engaged in an isometric contraction that not only will help strengthen this group, but provide protection to the lumbar spine. It’s a great way to challenge the biceps while achieving a secondary purpose of increasing lower-back strength. Enjoy!
Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master’s in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.
Amy Ward does step 2 of the TRX Single Arm Curl exercise
ActiveStyle on 10/30/2017
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