Regardless of whether you’re an avid exerciser or you’re newly committed to making exercise a regular part of your life, when
you’re putting the time and energy into working out, you want to make sure you’re getting the most benefits from your efforts.
Ask any exercise physiologist (in our case, accredited exercise physiologist, Hannah Bain from True
and the best place to start to help set yourself up for success is by prioritising developing a good technique.
Your technique is the way in which you perform an exercise - and having a good technique means carrying out a well-timed and coordinated sequence of actions that engage the right muscle groups for whichever action you’re doing, be it a squat, a lift, the way you run, and so on. So why should you be concerned about your technique - and why can’t you just get your daily exercise ticked off, however it comes? Let’s take a look.
Good Technique Creates A Safer Workout, Reducing Your Risk Of Injury
We’ve all used a range of poor techniques at one point or another - whether it’s lifting a heavy box, carrying our toddler around, or ‘winging’ it through those last few push-ups just to get them ticked off in that gym class. During these less-than-ideal movements, instead of keeping the body in a good alignment that will help us engage the right muscles and load our joints in a safe way, we risk placing excess stress on a range of muscles, joints and tendons - many of which may not be able to safely support the kind of movement or pressure you’re asking of them.
Any time that part of the body is exposed to excess stress past the point that it can safely handle, strains and other painful injuries can occur - which is your body’s natural way of letting you know that the stress is too much. With that comes downtime, repair and recovery - interrupting many people’s exercise plans. This is where taking the time to learn, refine and consistently use a good technique means that you can perform the same movement while engaging the right muscles at the right time, and load your joints in a healthy way - meaning the way that your body can safely handle and support your movements.
“Initially identifying your body’s capabilities and any technique errors when starting exercise is necessary to ensure that the exercise you are engaging in is appropriately loading your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints, and that you can safely participate for the whole duration of the planned exercise. This may mean adjusting exercises or completing complimentary exercises to assist in building up your ability to recruit the correct muscles and thus use correct technique”- Hannah Bain, Exercise Physiologist.
Good Technique Can Help You Perform Better
This is a case of ‘targeted practice makes perfect’. Being able to target specific muscles through a good technique means that you strategically build up these muscles, both in strength and flexibility, and in the mind-body connection which assists your natural efficiency in engaging the right muscles at the right time. When you can isolate and engage the right muscles for your chosen activity (whether that’s training for rugby or for casual running) - as opposed to recruiting a range of other muscles to compensate and help when our technique is less-than-ideal - you can continue to develop the strength and skills necessary to improve your performance in that activity.
Good Technique Promotes Better Breathing And It’s Benefits
As part of taking the time to hone a good technique, we also develop good breathing practices, with the two working hand-in-hand. Using the right breathing techniques and learning about things like diaphragmatic breathing offers a range of benefits during exercise, such as promoting better stamina and endurance, improving blood pressure, and improving oxygen flow to help those exercising recover more swiftly. A study directly focusing on breathing has been shown to leave lasting and positive changes for runners in the way they use their respiratory musculature, including better recruiting their abdominal muscles helps to optimise their respiratory efficiency, and delay the onset of respiratory muscle fatigue.
“Alongside improving oxygen efficiency, reducing exercising blood pressure, and assisting in engaging the correct musculature for a movement, implementing appropriate breathing practices can also significantly improve exercise tolerance and self efficacy in individuals with respiratory conditions including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease”.- Hannah Bain, Exercise Physiologist
While the general rule is that you inhale when exerting energy, like when you lift a weight, and exhale upon release, this may also change from sport to sport - and something that your exercise physiologist can help you understand and work on.
Good Technique Can Help Keep You Motivated
You can’t deny feeling a sense of dissatisfaction and the loss of motivation when you put effort in day in and day out, only to see minimal results, or not achieve what you were hoping for after some time. By using a good technique to help you get the most out of your workout and target specific areas, you are more likely to see or feel noticeable differences faster, helping keep you motivated and increasing your goals. These differences may look like anything from having a workout that used to leave you breathless feeling much easier, to being able to run for longer, to being able to lift heavier weights.
Moreover, by having positive feedback from our exercise, it can help reinforce it as a regular and healthy part of our lives. This is what this year's Exercise Right Week campaign - that is currently running this week - is all about. With a lot of dialogue in the health and fitness industry painting exercise as a chore we must tick off the list, or a punishment for eating a sugary snack, it’s important to change the narrative and promote a healthy, natural relationship with exercise - because our bodies were designed to move and stay active.
Where Do You Learn What The Right Techniques Are?
When thinking about techniques, there are a few things to consider:
This is why it’s so important to work with an accredited exercise physiologist when working on your technique. Exercise physiologists have the skills, experience and knowledge about the complex ways that the body responds to exercise. They know how to leverage exercise to optimise a person’s health and well-being, and the right techniques to help achieve this in the context of any injuries and conditions such as chronic pain that they may have.
More than the physical, your exercise physiologist can also help you redefine your relationship with exercise, helping it to become a lifelong, easygoing companion for health without the competition, numbers on a scale or striving towards an ultimate goal.
“Exercise really is the best medicine for our body, both mentally and physically. This is why developing a sustainable exercise routine that is enjoyable and safe is vital!”- Hannah Bain, Exercise Physiologist.
If you’re interested in working with an exercise physiologist, you can book in with Hannah at True North Wellness via their website here.