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All About Correct Form

“That’s horrible form…”

“Look how rounded his spine is…that has to be terrible…”
“That can’t be good for your knees.”

I hear these comments all the time when it comes to assessing different exercise movements.

Is there such a thing as correct form?
Yes and no.

The answer is a little more nuanced.

Let me explain…

Most professionals (including myself) would probably define correct form as performing an exercise movement while maintaining some type of anatomical neutrality in biomechanics.

For example, if performing a squat, the spine should not round, nor should it excessively arch. The knees should track over the first and second toe, and not fall inward (towards each other) or outward (away from each other).
This is a helpful concept and I do believe people should learn how to find neutral. Neutral is sort of like home base. It is true that a large majority of injuries tend to happen when an individual strays too far from neutral.

(You knew that was coming right? Of course you did, because I said the answer was a little gray 🙂

Life and sport don’t happen in a static, neutral, “anatomically correct” position. The real world doesn’t wait for you to get into the ideal position. This is especially true in sport.

And this is where the concept of “correct form” breaks down a bit.

If you’re going to wack a tennis ball as hard as you can, you probably aren’t thinking, “make sure I externally rotate my shoulder perfectly, and engage my obliques, and don’t arch my back too much…”

This is why form, like many things in exercise, really depends. There is really so much that could be said here, but let me give a quick example to drive this point home and hopefully leave you with some things to ponder.

Let’s say I play a sport or participate in an activity that consistently puts my spine in lumbar flexion (rounded back position). It is likely appropriate then for me to practice exercises in the weight room that help me get stronger in a lumbar flexed position. This might include an exercise like a round back deadlift. Most people look at a round back deadlift and think “NEVER DO THAT!”

And this is what I mean…the answer might be never do that. But maybe an individual needs to be resilient in that rounded spine position. If that’s the case, maybe correct form looks like building a stronger back outside of a traditional neutral spine position.

Obviously, this gets a little complicated. You may be wondering, are there positions I should be exercising in outside of neutral in order to better prepare me for life? The answer is maybe.

Come get a free performance assessment and we can talk you through it.