Exercise Tips for Safety

Can you imagine explaining to your great-great-great-great-grandparents what the biggest health threat to the industrialized world currently is: “We have too much food and we don’t physically labor hard enough.”

We’re not inherently lazy. It’s just that the necessities of daily life no longer require a high level of physical exertion. It appears, however, that we need to breathe hard, sweat and be challenged physically to maintain health. We now have to consciously add this movement to our day in the form of exercise.

Just about any form of exercise is better than no exercise. However, to ensure an exercise program is guiding the body away from pain and injury, consider the following tips, from St. Louis, Brentwood and Clayton, MO personal trainers:

Focus on Exercises That Reverse the “Sitting” Posture
While sitting, most of the spine and articulating joints adopt a “flexed” position. If done for prolonged periods, this position could lead to poor posture, pain and joint dysfunction.

When choosing exercises and movements to prioritize in the gym, consider those that are opposite to that of sitting:

  • Hip Flexors During Sitting: The hip flexors are held in flexion.
    • Exercise Suggestions: Prioritize hip extension with exercises such as the deadlift, bridge and swing variations.
  • Lumbar Spine (Lower Back) During Sitting: The lumbar spine is flexed, adding compression to the disks.
      • Exercise Suggestions: Prioritize natural lordotic curve and pelvic control with exercises such a bird-dog variations, prone arm/leg lift variations and plank variations.

  • Thoracic Spine (Upper Back) During Sitting: The thoracic spine is flexed, which adds to the compression in the lumbar spine and slopes the shoulders forward.
    • Exercise Suggestions: Prioritize thoracic extension and scapular retraction with exercises such as back extension variations, deadlift variations, row variations and horizontal abduction variations (e.g., reverse flyes)

Exercises that actually mimic the sitting position, such as abdominal crunches, should be minimized.

Create Muscular Balance Around the Joints
There are two primary ways to create physical pain and dysfunction: Do nothing or do too much of one thing. In either of these cases, an imbalance of strength, stability and mobility is created around a joint. Eventually, this prevents the joint from working properly, resulting in pain and a decrease in performance.

Select exercises that challenge opposing muscles, either within a workout or over the course of a workout week. For example:

  • For every “push” exercise (push-up, bench press, military press, etc.), perform a “pull” (rows, pull-ups, lat pull-down, etc.).
  • For every “quad dominant” exercise (squat, lunge, leg press), do a “hip dominant” exercise (dead lift, swing, bridge, etc.).
  • For every “trunk flexion” exercise (crunch variations), do a “trunk extension” exercise (back extension variations, prone extension variations, dead lift variations)
  • For every exercise done in the sagittal (forward and back) plane (pushes, pulls, squats, lunges, dead lifts, etc.), do an exercise in either the frontal (side to side) plane (lateral lunges, lateral raises, lateral shuffles, etc.) or transverse (rotational) plane (chop and rotation variations).

















By attending to the balance of strength around a joint, mobility and function can be maintained and the likelihood of pain and injury is minimized.

  • Consult with a certified health and exercise professional. A certified personal trainer can help make sure you are performing exercises correctly in addition to helping you create a balanced, effective program.

Exercise is an opportunity to break the modern daily mold of inactivity. Just about any form of exercise is better than none at all. Following these tips, however, can ensure your exercise program helps you stay active, pain-free and performing at your best for life.

For more information on exercise tips for safety, contact Maurie Cofman, CMES, CES, TBMM-CES, Personal Trainer, Certified Medical Exercise Specialist, Health Coach and Corrective Exercise Specialist in the St. Louis, Brentwood, and Clayton, MO area.