3 Common Exercise Mistakes
Are YOU making them?
Movement is a great. Getting active is fabulous. But is it enough?
How we move matters. To get really great quality out of our exercising, we need to make sure we're doing it the best way possible. And that means looking at some of the common ways we cheat ourselves out of the fullness of moving.
When we have pain from exercising it's often because we're not moving right. Below are three of the most common movement mistakes I see. The first step to fixing a problem is knowing that there is one! So let's see if you're making these movement mistakes by breaking them down.
Mistake #1: NOT Moving the Upper Spine
Check out my flat back! All of the real movement is in my neck in this picture.
We all want to move and bend in our upper spine, our thoracic spine, from the bottom of our ribs to the tops of our shoulder blades. It feels great and moving our upper back takes stress off of our lower back. It helps to open our shoulders, makes it easier to breathe and gives us greater mobility throughout our spine.
BUT instead of actually moving the bones in our thoracic (upper) spine, we do one of these following 'cheats' so that we think we're moving our spine, when in reality we are not.
Check out these common signs that you're making this mistake:
When you move your upper spine...
- Does your neck move first and most?
When you flex (bend forward) or extend (bend back), is it your neck that moves first? When this happens we're not getting into the back, we're just moving our neck.
Do your bottom ribs swing forward or back?
When you flex, do your bottom ribs thrust back in space? When you extend, do your bottom ribs pop forward and up? With this, we're hinging at one place in our spine instead of moving all of the bones equally.
Do your shoulder blades pull apart or together?
When you bend forward do you pull your shoulder blades apart? When you bend backwards, do you do this by pulling your shoulder blades together? This makes us feel like our spine is bending but it's just our shoulder blades moving, creating the illusion of spinal movement.
These are all signs that you are not actually and actively moving the bones in your upper spine when you bend and flex. This is thankfully very fixable! Sign up here for the free (yes, free!) instructional video that will get you started on moving that upper back, creating freedom of movement, release in neck and low back.
Mistake #2: Moving the Legs and Pelvis Together
Can you see how my bum has curled under as I lifted my leg? Instead of my pelvis staying neutral?
We often don't think that there's anything wrong with how we move in our hips unless we have pain there. I'm folding at my hips and lifting my knee, surely that's all there is to it, right? Really healthy movement in the hip will mean that the front of the hips are loose and can fold deeply and our low backs are relaxed and calm.
BUT instead of fully moving our leg bones in our pelvis, we do some of the movement in the hip joint and then do the rest with our pelvis. We are stuck or 'gummed up' in our joint and failing to get the deep movement we're entitled to!
Let's find out if you're falling for this "classic blunder" (get geek points for knowing the reference!)
When you move your leg in your hips...
- Does your bum curl under as your knee goes up?
When you pick your knee up (such as in walking or climbing stairs) does your bum stay steady or does your tailbone curl underneath as if it is picking up your leg? This happens when we want to bend deeper at the hip but are not currently capable of doing so.
Does the front of your hip feel stuck?
Can you lift your knee freely and easily up towards your chest? Or does it feel like there is something stuck in the way? When we consistently move from the wrong muscles, we lose the freedom of motion in the front of our hips.
It is so easy to feel like we are moving properly. If you're still not sure if you are making this movement mistake, sign up for the free video that will show you what this looks like in action AND get how to fix it at the same time.
Mistake #3: Feet
Check out feet and ankles. Can you see how they have fallen in? Especially the one on the left! On the upside, check out my nice parallel, hip distance apart alignment.
Feet. Poor, oft ignored feet. We rely on our feet to be there and do what we need but rarely do we focus on them as part of our exercise form. Yet healthy feet leads to healthy hips and healthy knees. Great foot alignment makes walking, running, cycling, exercising more efficient (and therefore easier!).
BUT instead of integrating our feet into our exercises, we just assume they are doing their part, and sadly that is rarely the case. Are your feet serving you the best they possibly can? Let's find out!
When you stand on your feet....
- Does the inside of your ankle bulge inwards/fall towards the floor?
Do your ankles collapse and fall in with really shallow arches? Pronation is very common, but when the ankles collapse, so do our knees and inevitably our hips must follow.
- Can and do you stand in all four corners of your feet?
When you're standing, do you weight into the inside AND the outside of your heels? Is the big toe mound of your foot AND your little toe mound equally touching the floor? Is your weight even between the front and back of your feet as
- Are the knuckles of your toes raised up high?
And are your arches equally high? Too much arch is just as much a problem as too little. Typically this is the opposite situation to the falling ankles above.
- Are your feet parallel to each other when you stand?
Are your feet hip distance apart when you're standing? With equal distance between the big toe mounds (not the toe itself but the bone big bone that curves out from the top inside of the foot itself) and your heels? Or does one leg rotate out or in? This is actually an indicator of what is going on in the hip! But worth mentioning here.
Oh, feet. Beloved and wonderful and forgotten feet. It would takes many hours to do justice for our feet, both in the ways we don't do well and how we can make them feel and move better. But for now, how about getting free access to the ~20 minute video that will help you take you first steps towards happier feet?
So how many of these mistakes
are YOU making?
Do you recognize these indicators? Are they familiar ways for your body to move (or not move, as the case may be)? You're not alone. These are literally the most common mistakes I see on a near daily basis.
These common mistakes mean that we are not getting the true depth out of our exercise regimes. We are not getting the best work out of our bodies. And we absolutely are not reaping the full benefits of the movements we are doing.
With attention, intention and focus,
YOU can put an end to them
Thankfully, you don't need to start something new or learn whole new techniques. You can fix all of these errors by focusing in on your current practice and giving more attention to how you're moving.
Just by knowing these mistakes, and how they appear, you can start fixing them. If you're willing to spend ~ 20 minutes per area, I can guide you through how to do that for yourself. At NO cost to you.
Sign Up and Get Access to
3 Videos to FIX These Mistakes
These training videos are absolutely FREE because I think everyone should know these basics on how to move better. Because when we move better, we feel better and we live better. Sign up below and I'll send you the access to 3 videos, each approximately 20 minutes, that will give you detailed instructions on these mistakes and what you can specifically do to fix them.
Owner of Living Bodies Studio
About the Author
Violet is a classical Pilates instructor who both graduated from an intensive (950 hour) training program and officially opened Living Bodies Studio in 2014. This lets her passion for mind/body connection and authentic movement drive her life.
Her passion for movement has been a sneaky part of her life far longer than she would ever have suspected: from aerobics classes started in high school until well into her 30's to body-soul connection classes through her 30's and 40's. Looking back, this passion for healthy movement shouldn't be a surprise at all.