We all know that fitness is important, but exercising safely is just as critical. Whether you’re a regular gym-goer or are just starting out, it’s important to remain injury-free so you can keep moving closer to your fitness goals.
“Before starting a new exercise program, be sure to get a proper movement assessment done and even consider a couple of one-on-one sessions with a qualified and experienced professional to ensure you know how to move safely,” exercise scientist Van Marinos tells Starts at 60.
In order to exercise safely and effectively, you should know the following basics.
We’ve all heard the phrase “engage your core”, but do you know what that really means?
“The muscles around our midsection, often referred to as the core, play an important role in keeping our torso stable and protecting our spine from movements that may cause harm,” Marinos says.
While you don’t need six-pack abs, having strong back and abdominal muscles make everyday tasks like carrying the groceries even easier and you’re less likely to suffer from back pain.
So how do you engage your core? Rest your hands on either side of your belly and try to push them away using only your abdominal muscles. You should feel the lower part of your abs engage to support your lower spine.
You unconsciously move your hips as you go about everyday tasks, like getting up from a chair, ascending stairs, or walking. That’s why it’s so important to include hip extension exercises into your fitness routine.
“Learning to flex and extend at the hip rather than move from the lower back will not only help strengthen the muscles involved but will also help you perform activities you enjoy without pain or fear of injury,” Marinos says.
Scapula stability is all about stabilising the shoulder blades, Marinos explains. Your shoulder blades play an important role in the overall function of the shoulders. Incorporating scapula stabilisation exercises into your program is a surefire way to keep your shoulders strong.
Unfortunately, many of us spend far too much time sitting. Sitting down all day causes glutes (the muscles in your bum) to become inactive, which can lead to all sorts of movement issues, including lower back pain, hip pain and even knee and ankle pain.
Marinos recommends incorporating glute activation exercises into your warm-up to reduce your risk of injury.
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