New Year’s goals are under way. You know, the things you promised yourself on January 1st, likely synonyms of the words “fit” or “healthy.” You may feel successful if you’ve been able to keep on track thus far. We certainly aren’t arguing with that.
However, we want you to stay on track, injury free, so we talked to anatomy queen Susi Hately.
We furiously took notes to give you the tricks of the trade you may not have considered when you were more concerned with putting one foot in front of the other.
Here are 8 points that’ll keep you from believing the “no pain, no gain” mantra, while helping you accomplish your deepest dreams and highest intentions.
1. To train safely you need to reduce the amount of compensation you move with.
“It’s not just about lifting a whole bunch of weight, it’s about moving properly. The more coordinated and smooth someone’s movement is, the stronger that they will get,” Susi says. Even if you’re a weight lifter, you can be graceful.
2. Tension in the abdomen is not how you protect the back.
This is a commonly held belief. “It doesn’t really. If people move better, they will have better strength and get more bang for their buck.” In short, moving safely with your back is the best medicine.
3. The less effort, the better?
People put a lot of effort into getting fitter and they are putting in a lot more effort than they need to. Aggressive movements can get people too tight, which can lead to the “cycle of injury, recover, repeat,” notes Susi. Approaching movement with ease is more sustainable and will actually grant you more power.
4. Make sure that the joint you wish to use is the one that is actually moving.
Susi estimates that 80% of the movements people are doing in gym environments are potentially injurious. She gives the example of bicep curls. Instead of bending an elbow and moving it into flexion, many people move their whole backs. The downside is that people may feel strong but aren’t getting the benefit of the exercise.
5. Improve the underlying movement problem, rather than generically strengthening.
If you don’t know your body, it will be hard to improve on it. Strengthening on top of tension can fall apart because you are “compensating on top of a compensation”. Learn where your weak areas are, rather than strengthening popular muscles.
6. Be choosy with your personal trainer.
If you hire someone to watch your form, they should be doing exactly that. Susi has seen trainers watch other people or spend the whole time chatting with their clients. The only way they can help you is if they watch you like a hawk and correct your imbalances.
7. Mind body connections are not just for yoga mats.
This connection helps people to perform better. You may believe that it’s better to be intense than to be mindful. Susi suggests that by doing your movements well, you can still be intense (if that is what you like) and get stronger faster.
8. In order to recover, you need to have rest.
“It’s different for personality and body type because some people need more than one day. The kind of rest depends on the activity that the person is involved in,” says Susi.
No one size fits all models here.
Learn more about what Susi is up to on her website.