Wait, proper form really matters?

Posted By Xin-min Lai on Mar 14, 2016 in exercise


When people tell you that proper form during weight lifting (or any exercise) is important, believe it.  I didn’t really appreciate how important proper form in my dead lifts was until my back started complaining about my lifetime of poor posture.

Proper form isn’t just a tool that your trainer uses to make you feel awkward or confused when you try and move that body of bad habits into alignment (though that is an added bonus in my case – I am the definition of awkward).

  1. It actually does prevent excess strain and injury.  You are moving your body the way your skeleton and muscles were built to move, in ways that properly support whatever weight you’re lifting.  Improper form puts extra strain on the muscles and joints that WERE NOT designed to take that much weight or move that way.
  2. It really is more efficient.  You’re actually engaging the major and supporting muscles that you’re trying to develop.  Otherwise, you end up compensating and wasting energy recruiting extra muscles and movements just to get through a rep.

Why do I know this?  Painful experience – my back (after years of abuse and torture, a.k.a. sitting at a computer 12 hours a day) has developed some issues.  I sometimes have a sharp pain in my lower back that is not due to muscle soreness or overuse.  It’s almost chronic.

I have discovered that literally the only way I can do deadlifts (or any bent over exercise) pain free is if my form is exactly perfect when I bend over.  Otherwise, I’m aggravating all those little lower back joints and muscles.  When my form is correct, there is real support from my larger muscles for the exercise.

Granted, occasionally the pain is so bad that it makes it difficult for me to get myself into proper position, or the exercise with my usual weight is just too much and I have to go lighter.  The rest of the time, though, I can almost do things the way I used to, like a human being instead of a deformed cave troll.

My back is like a second trainer now (because one isn’t enough?), letting me know in very clear terms if I’m doing it wrong.  So, if there’s one thing to take away from this post, it’s “don’t be like Xin-min”.  Learn from my experience and do your exercise right, otherwise you’ll end up with the same pain management toolkit I have.  Tiger Balm, anyone?

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