Five Workout Do’s & Don’ts

Classic Quad Stretch: I see this classic gym stretch all the time. Practice it with your knee back further than you think it needs to be. Then tuck your bum underneath you to fully stretch the quad and hip flexors.

Classic Calf Stretch: Make sure your foot is completely perpendicular to the wall, otherwise we are only stretching one portion of the calf muscles and Achilles tendon, possibly setting us up for injury. Also, try it with your back knee bent as well as straight, this will get the deeper soleus muscle!

The popular Double Leg Lift:  Please don’t do this one, ever (and I rarely say NEVER to things). It’s the worst you can do, please stop doing it. The risks outweigh the benefits due to the excessive compressive forces placed on the intervertebral discs. These mechanics set your body up for injury, maybe not now, but over time that pressure causes break down in the connective tissues. Plus, the prime movers here are the hip flexors; the abdominal muscles are simply stabilizing the spine…although not successfully. I’m happy to dig deeper into the clinical mess of the mechanics, but I think you get the picture.

What should we do instead? Pilates. I’m biased, not because I own a Pilates studio, but because I have seen the benefits on thousands of my patients on lower back pain, spinal stability, and quality of life. Pick a skilled Pilates studio with true Pilates training. Or, just come see us. 

Squats & Lunges Alone: These are only working your glutes halfway by only working the hip joint in one range. With traditional exercises like these, we are missing the pure 30 degrees of hip extension produced by a whole other segment of our gluteus maximus or bum muscles. Please see my post on my love of the glute muscles and focus on working “terminal hip extension,” like in this oldie but a goodie.  I truly believe activating our glutes correctly and effectively will enhance and lengthen our lives. 

Linear Workouts Only: Yes, rowing is good, running is great, and burpees are hard! But…please add in some rotation and movements outside of that one plane. Our bodies don’t move in just one plane — our muscle fibers and joints are not arranged that way. We are very three-dimensional. We move front to back, yes, but we also move side to side, we twist, we torque, and we combine all these movements together. Seek a pro to help you introduce these moments into your workout routine, they will improve your life.

For example, I have a fair share of runners who are up to the Pilates challenge. I can always tell when I have a runner in class. They tend to struggle with the exercises that demand lateral stability or anything outside of that forward linear trajectory. But this is a good struggle for them, it shows they are getting stronger! Runners need this challenge to help improve their performance and prevent injury from repetitive motions.

Our schedule is filled with multidimensional and fulfilling classes designed to balance and strengthen your body from the inside out.

Originally published in Alexandria Stylebook: