We’ve all seen it at the gym and some of us may be guilty of it: people leaning on the StepMill machine while climbing their way to the stars or having their shoulders hunched forward while pumping away on the elliptical trainer. And what about climbing the stairs backward or holding on to the hand rests backward?
The truth is that being mindful of your body’s position on cardio equipment is critical to avoiding future problems with muscle and joint pain.
First, let’s talk about the StepMill. This is one of the toughest cardio workout machines in the gym, so it’s understandable that many people will lean on the machine to make it easier—but don’t! Leaning on the machine puts your body in a bent-over position and puts stress on your lower back, neck and shoulders. Over time, your body will let you know. If the level is that difficult for you to perform, take it down a notch and keep proper form.
The same goes for climbing backward or holding the hand rests in an unnatural position. This puts undue stress on your neck, shoulders, wrists and back. Keep your head upright, shoulders back and back straight. You not only will get a great workout, but you’ll also help avoid future joint and muscle pain that could become chronic. Tip: Try climbing stairs with your hands on your hips. It makes the workout tougher, but forces you to be more aware of your posture.
Using the elliptical trainer is another rough workout, but you want to get the cardiovascular and fat-burning benefits without compromising your muscle and joint health. It’s easy to forget about your posture while pumping away to your favorite jams, but keeping your shoulders back and your body upright will help prevent any future issues. Tip: Try releasing the rowing handles and put your hands on your hips or clasped behind your back for several minutes—forcing you to keep your shoulders back. Then return to the rowing handles.
So, remember to keep your form, and your body will thank you—if not today, then definitely in the years to come!
In order to avoid risk of injury, please seek advice directly from your physician, especially if you have existing medical issues, before beginning any exercise or nutritional program. Also, be sure to stretch after exercise to avoid muscle and joint tightness.