Stretching before workouts can help prevent knee injuries

We're trying to build strength and endurance, and reach our goal of 150 minutes of exercise per week. We've also started weight training two to three times a week to strengthen the muscles and lose body fat.

On our journey to become healthier, we might be tempted to chiong (rush), and work out faster and harder so we can get fit quick or reach a healthy body weight fast.

Slow down! Rushing through workouts and ignoring our form could cause injury—especially for those of us with existing back or knee problems—or make our workouts less effective, setting back progress.

Let's find out how we can maintain proper form and avoid injuries when exercising!

Why Care About Form During Workouts?

Form is how we position and move our bodies during exercise. Why is maintaining proper form important?

Prevent Injury

Exercising is, basically, putting our bodies under physical stress. Improper form means the body isn't correctly aligned. This places unnecessary stress on our joints and tendons, which could lead to injury and pain, affecting our quality of life.

You may have heard of people complain about knee injuries or pain in their knee joints after a workout. Proper form helps prevent this.

Strength Training? Target the Right Muscles

Working out with proper form helps us hit our fitness goals by making sure that we're targeting the correct muscles and training them effectively.

If you don't see expected results from your workouts, check your form!

For instance, you've been doing wall push-ups daily to build muscle in your upper body for the past few weeks, but your arms don't feel any stronger. They still feel nua (weak) after you carry anything heavy.

After checking your form, you realise you'd been standing too close to the wall and resting most of your weight on your legs; you haven't actually worked your arms.

Tips to Maintain Form

So, how do we exercise with proper form? Here are some tips!

Consult Professionals

Whether it's free weights, resistance training, or weight machines that you plan on using for a full-body workout, consult a certified personal trainer. He or she can help you check your technique and correct your form. Avoid observing and copying your friends, they might not be doing it right either!

Record Yourself

Check your form by recording yourself working out and comparing your clips with online exercise videos by experienced professionals and reputable sources. You might spot where you're doing certain movements incorrectly.

Be in Control

Whether you're lifting weights, doing squats, or stretching, keep your movements slow and controlled, instead of jerking or bouncing.

When standing, make sure your weight is evenly distributed on both feet, and bend the knees slightly (i.e. don't lock your knees).

For exercises like jogging or jumping jacks, remember to land properly. Wear shoes with shock absorption, and land lightly on your feet.

Remember to Breathe

It's a common rookie mistake to forget to breathe or unknowingly hold our breaths when we're concentrating on an exercise. Remember to breathe!

In general, take deep breaths from your belly, instead of breathing from your upper chest. Your belly should expand with as you breathe in and contract as you breathe out, and your upper chest should remain still. Don't worry, this gets easier with practice.

Choose the Right Level of Difficulty

If you're just starting to exercise after a long period of inactivity, make sure you don't bite off more than you can chew (as your Ma might say, “don't keh kiang”).

Master basic techniques before progressing to more advanced workouts!

And, as always, warm up before exercising, and stretch to cool down after. Stop if you feel any pain!

Do consult your doctor before starting any exercise regime, and practise caution when exercising. Remember, safety first!

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