Understanding corrective movement and injury prevention

Mike Grice is an osteopath with 20 years’ experience of teaching and working in the fitness industry. Mike is a Lecturer at University College Birmingham, owner of his own training company and delivers therapy and corrective exercise courses for Lifetime Training.

Despite our best efforts, clients in our classes get injured. This may be a function of people starting to move more, but we provide them with the best warm ups, the best exercises to help them achieve their goals, we make sure their exercises are functional and their cores are working well; but they still get injured.  There will be a number of reasons for this of course, and poor exercise form or technique is one of these.

The problem is, how do we confirm what constitutes good and poor techniques?

We could suggest that a good technique is one that works within biomechanically efficient ranges and angles of the relevant joints. Biomechanically correct movements have been shown to reduce the risk of injury and are critical in any gym or class based exercise programme. 

Many poor techniques, however, are due to compensation for past injury or intrinsic biomechanical problems; in fact, many of the faulty movement patterns we see are merely the body’s many ways of compensating for its biomechanical flaws.

To manage this, in an ideal world each class participant would have an intrinsic biomechanical screen prior to them embarking on any fitness programme and then periodically thereafter.  The practical challenges are obvious, but not insurmountable. There are some excellent instructors providing intrinsic biomechanical screens for their clients, here are some of their ideas:

1.         Bring one or two members in early before the class each session and do two or three basic screens on them to highlight key areas for attention. Then give them exercises as homework to perform between classes. Over time, you’ll be able to work through all your class members; perhaps start with the most enthusiastic first and let the word spread.

2.         As part of the warm up you can get clients to screen themselves and see their own results in the mirror.  Simple yet key intrinsic biomechanical features like pelvic, nerve and shoulder biomechanics can be screened in as little as two minutes and then simply build the relevant exercises to manage those problems as part of your warm up and cool downs.

3.         Pay careful attention to participants’ techniques, so walking the floor to show them that you’re looking at their technique is important, as is drawing their attention to the key teaching points in each exercise.  It can also be helpful to physically reposition class members if they simply cannot co-ordinate a particular movement.  Do be careful not to force any movement, but sometimes the added proprioceptive stimulation of manually taking them through an exercise helps them understand the pattern you’re after.  This helps them pick the movement up quicker and more permanently and makes it more efficient for you.  

The key learning points here are that, wherever possible, try and use good form and screen your clients over time.  If these strategies are not possible (or available) then encourage them to 1) move slower and 2) move through shorter ranges of movement. 

Lifetime Training offers a range of Exercise Specialist courses, including the Certificate in Remedial Sports Massage and Corrective Exercise. For more information click here or call a member of the team on 0870 120 1207. 

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