It occurred to me that that most of the people who’ve been to my office for “gym” or “workout” injuries haven’t injured themselves actually working out, but rather preparing for the workout.
Yes of course I get the overzealous person who strained themselves lifting too or the person who mis-stepped in an aerobics class. But way too common are people injured when setting their exercises up.
Everyone pays attention to proper technique when doing the exercises themselves. But sit back sometime and watch how they set up the barbell. Look how they take the weights or dumbbells off the rack. Look how they lift the handle bar and attach it to the lead wire for a weight-stack machine.
Proper technique counts whether you are doing an exercise, lifting a weight to put on a bar or bending over to pick up a handle for a weight stack machine. You may not be exercising, but you are lifting a weight. If nothing else, your body weight.
I’ll never forget patient file #6 from 1994. All she did was bend over from the waist to get a cotton ball out of the bag of cotton balls from underneath the bathroom cabinet below her sink. Even if she lifted the entire bag of cotton balls, it would have only been maybe 1 ounce. But only 1 cotton ball and guess what…? She herniated a lumbar disc in her lower back. Ouch!!!
It’s not what you lift, but how you lift it. It’s not how much you lift, but how you lift it. It doesn’t matter if you are doing an exercise, preparing your workout or getting ready to remove your make-up. Proper technique should be observed at all times. Not just when doing your exercise.
Remember, you might not be doing an exercise, but your still lifting a weight. Even if it's just the weight of your own body.
Dr. Narson is a 2-term past president of the Florida Chiropractic Association’s Council on Sports Injuries, Physical Fitness & Rehabilitation and was honored as the recipient of the coveted Chiropractic Sports Physician of the Year Award in 1999-2000. He practices in Miami Beach, Florida at the Miami Beach Family & Sports Chiropractic Clinic.