Disclaimer- This is a gym rant. I have a love-hate relationships with commercial gyms. I love that everyone around me has made the commitment to move and exercise and be healthy. The energy is great too. It’s definitely more motivating and entertaining for me than working out at home. HOWEVER- I have a big issues with my inability to turn off my inner Physical Therapist. I watch everyone. And I judge. The good, the bad, and the ugly- I just can’t help it. It may be a sickness. (This also may be the reason my husband refuses to work out with me). On one hand, it PAINS me to see people doing exercises with terrible, dangerous form- on the other hand- it does lend to job security- as I know, at some point, these people will hurt themselves, and they will need physical therapy.
Now, there are A LOT of exercises that are done incorrectly- but I saw two today, that were performed with such glaring violations of form and safety, I was compelled to write about it. If nothing else- this is my good deed, public service announcement for today.
#1 The Box Jump
The box jump is probably one of the first “plyometric” exercises we were given as young athletes with the hope of improving explosive power. The problem is it’s now just thrown haphazardly into training programs by coaches who don’t know better- or worse- someone saw something cool on the internet.
Here’s what I saw today- someone performing a jump onto a 24” box, landing hard, only on his toes, and then jumping down. I physically cringed. Why is this bad? Well for starters- getting just the toes on the box can cause it to flip OR he could have missed altogether causing, a nasty shin injury. The landing should be soft- to absorb the force though the joints and not crush them. And the jumping down! Oh my- that’s just a meniscal tear waiting to happen. Sir- here’s my card, you will need that soon.
So what should you do?
- Pick a height that you can actually jump onto safely
- Land softly, with both feet on the box and your head and chest up
- STEP down
#2 The Kettlebell Swing
I LOVE a good kettlebell swing. I love the explosive power. I love the how it locks in my core. I love the sweat. I HATE bad form. Please- do not go over head and for GOODNESS SAKES the kettlebell does not like to be humped.
There is no need for the kettlebell to go over your head. There is no advantage to this AND there is potential for all kinds of bad: hyperextension of the back, cranking of the neck and shoulders- oh, and you could also drop it on your head.
A kettlebell swing is NOT a squat- it’s a hip hinge, like a deadlift. If you can’t hip hinge- keeping your entire spine in neutral while moving at your hips- you have no business swinging yet. Don’t know how- you can train a hip hinge like this.
Good form is imperative to performance and safety. Are you one of those at the gym that I am looking at, cringing? Unless you really want physical therapy, make sure to clean it up to avoid injury. Unsure how? Reach out to a great Physical Therapist or personal trainer.