Five workout mistakes

Sakal Times
Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Pointing out the common mistakes one makes while exercising, celebrity fitness trainer Sherin Poojari tells us how to do it right

Exercise is immensely beneficial for a healthy mind and body as it provides a stable outlet to deal with the excess energy at all levels. Different people react to different exercise techniques in different manner. There has been extensive research done in this area which explores how much exercise is essential for a human body, with details such as minimum exercise requirement during a week, different levels of exercise for different populations, and various ways exercising affects people, among others. 

Most people make an effort to incorporate some form of exercise in their lives despite their busy schedules, because it offers immense health benefits and also helps to deal with high stress levels. Lack of physical activity can have a detrimental effect on the health. But performing exercises incorrectly can undo its positive effects. A rapid rise in musculoskeletal injuries due to incorrect form or posture while exercising has been witnessed by physiotherapists who note that 50 per cent of their clientele now come to them due to exercise-related injuries, which can be both chronic and acute. 

Sherin Poojari, a well-known name in the fitness industry who has worked with celebrities like actors Madhuri Dixit, Shilpa Shetty, choreographer Ganesh Hedge, industrialist Sanjeev Nanda and his family, and others, discusses the five most common workout mistakes and tells you how you can avoid them. 

LEARN HOW TO PICK UP AND DROP WEIGHTS
It is a common mistake that people tend to make very often yet it is rarely pointed out. If you are about to lie down on a bench with dumbbells, then there is a certain way to pick it up from the floor and drop it back after you are done. If you are using equipment like leg press or chest press and you are done performing the movement, there is a certain method to lock the equipment and move out of it. As easy as this may sound, lack of knowledge about the correct way to go about using the equipment can result in some serious injuries which usually occur when beginning or ending a particular movement with free weights and equipments.

Solution
1. Ask an experienced trainer to teach you this process.
2. Make sure you have a spotter around when lifting heavy equipment. One should always adhere to this as a precautionary measure, especially while performing weight-lifting exercises. 

EXCESS USE OF THE DOMINANT SIDE
This is something which every beginner goes through but is unable to rectify due to which it becomes a habit which can ultimately lead to serious injury. We all have a dominant side, which we prefer to use while doing everyday tasks. Irrespective of whether you are left-handed or right-handed, you will observe that you are able to lift more weight on the dominant side. As you continue to train without focusing on the balance between your right and left, you will invariably make the dominant side more imbalanced in terms of the amount of weight one is able to lift, but also it will make one side more fatigue resistant. This will cause you to tilt more on the dominant side as you approach failure repetitions. This can be the cause of injury; excessively tight muscles on one side can lead to chronic aches and pains on the dominant side. For a painless way to exercise and achieve fitness goals, one needs to find a balance in using both sides of the body.

Solution
1. Use unilateral movements (dumb-bells instead of a bar) to perform movements and make sure you complete an equal number of repetitions on both sides with the exact range of motion.
2. If you observe a tilt in your barbell movements while performing the movement, then immediately stop and do not perform the movement until the balance is rectified.
3. Release the tight muscles on the dominant side using therapies as advised by your physiotherapist.

BREATHING
Something as simple as breathing can get complex while exercising. One of the reasons to run out of breath while performing any physical activity can be attributed to the wrong way of breathing. Which is why, it is imperative that one seeks professional guidance on the correct way of breathing while performing different types of exercises. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as ‘breath-in’ and ‘breathe-out’.

When performing high repetitions, there is a particular pattern of breathing, when lifting maximum weight for low repetition the pattern changes. Similarly, the pattern shifts when one is swimming, and also while performing yoga. It differs for each kind of exercise. 

Breathing is not just taking in the air and pushing it out. Your breathing changes the way your musculoskeletal system reacts to the stimulus and the way your energy balances itself for the movement. Learn how your own breathing changes specific to your movements and you will see the ease with which you will be able to perform exercises, delay the fatigue factor, and ensure speedy recovery during and post-exercise period. 

Solution
Seek professional guidance because a personal trainer, especially one who has a deep understanding of the subject matter, will help you to identify various breathing patterns.

DON’T TREAT YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE LIKE A MEDICAL INTERVENTION
There are guidelines which say that one should train for certain amount of hours per week, according to his/ her body requirements. However, treating your exercise routine like a medical intervention in your life which requires it to be performed with a daily minimum dosage is detrimental because ultimately it is de-motivating and rather creates a stressful situation where exercise becomes a chore rather than a fun-filled activity. While discipline is appreciable, your workout routine should be your getaway from the daily grind. It must be a personal sanctuary where one can introspect in peace without the overwhelming sense of hurry which permeates our lives. 

If your workout has also become a part of the obligatory to-do list, then sooner or later you will face trouble, first, as mental stress, then, as physical injury because where your mind goes, your body will undoubtedly follow. 

Solution
It is important to invest your time, mind and energy in finding out a routine that excites and relaxes you at the same time. This could be weight training, running, cycling, swimming, martial arts, yoga, pilates, Zumba or any other form of exercise.

SLOUCHING YOUR BACK AS YOU BEND FORWARD
It is easily the most common of all mistakes that people make while exercising. In fact, this is the number one reason which leads to back pain. This happens if you have tight muscles on your legs and back while exercising. Technically referred to as the posterior chain, it includes muscles in your calves, hamstrings, gluteus group and muscles in your back such as the erector spinal muscles. Also, how much of an arch you have on your lower back has a huge role to play in this, for example, if anyone has a flat lower back or an excessively curved lower back, then it increases their chances of back pain.   

Most of the exercises will require you to bend forward with an additional load like dumbbells in your hand so you need to know what your back can and cannot take, in accordance with your physical stature. 

Solution
1. Perform simple stretching exercises for hamstrings, calves and lower back post-exercise. As you do this regularly you will see an increase in the flexibility of your posterior chain.
2. Use foam rollers to self-massage your posterior chain. You will relax and release your stressed muscles and will feel the relief every time you do this.
3. Learn the proper form of bending forward without slouching your back. This will require you to actively use your gluteus and hamstring muscles.
4. If you feel you have a flat or excessively curved lower back, then seek guidance from a physiotherapist.

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