All the wrong moves

Some people do their exercises incorrectly, increasing the likelihood of injury. Some common exercises and questions illustrating incorrect exercises are presented.

Could your exercises be failing you? If you’re doing them incorrectly, you may be working harder than you have to, without gaining results. Or, worse yet, you could be putting yourself at risk for injury. Mark Stevens of the Gym shows us some rights and wrongs.

#1 Stretching

WRONG Bouncing while you stretch.

RIGHT Slow, smooth and controlled stretches. “Bouncing could cause you to stretch too far because it’s uncontrollable,” says Mark.

#2 Lunges

WRONG Positioning your knee further forward than your foot.

RIGHT Keeping back straight, knees directly above foot. “Lunging too far forward puts too much stress on your knee caps, which can lead to injury,” says Mark.

#3 Situps

WRONG Arching your back as you come up.

RIGHT Lifting yourself just a few inches off the ground by using abdominal muscles instead of your back and head. Arch your back and you’ll be at risk for straining it or your neck. (Not to mention you won’t be working your abdominal muscles as efficiently.)

OTHER COMMON EXERCISE MISTAKES

WRONG Not warming up.

RIGHT Warming up your muscles and joints for about five to 10 minutes before a workout. Not warming up could lead to muscle injury. A great warm-up involves using the muscles you’ll be working out slowly and gently. Try walking before running, riding a slow stationary bike before cycling or doing weights.

WRONG Stretching only after, or only before, a workout.

RIGHT Stretching both before and after workouts. “Stretching out the muscles you’ve just worked after a workout prevents them from tightening up and becoming sore,” says Mark.

I’ve been doing the stair machine for a week now, but afterward my neck and elbows are sore. What am I doing wrong?

Answer: Chances are, you’re using your arms to support you by hanging on too tightly to the rails. The hand rails should be used for balance only. Otherwise, not only will you become sore, you’ll also be getting less of a lower-body workout.

How much water should I drink when I work out?

Answer: It’s essential to stay well-hydrated when you work out so that your muscles will work more efficiently and to prevent cramping. A good rule: 8 ounces of water every 30 minutes while working out or exercising. Swimmers should be sure to stay hydrated, as it’s easy to forget you’re losing water when you’re inside a pool. And keep in mind that diet sodas are not good substitutes: many contain caffeine which acts as a diuretic.