If we move randomly in life, why do we train at the gym in such a rigid manner and stress perfect form? Gym settings are essential in maintaining strength in our activities of daily living. Squats and lunges help strengthen your legs. Cable pulls help strengthen your back and arms. If you’re a right-handed golfer, strengthening muscles on your left side is important for muscle balance.
Organized fitness sessions and paying attention to form is crucial to avoid injury. Perhaps you’ve heard that when you squat, your knees should not go past your toes. When you perform a deadlift, your back should remain flat. Working with constraints given particularly if you’re lifting heavy weight is essential. In this case, you may have to move like a robot.
In biomechanics, there is an inverse relationship between the amount of weight you lift and degrees of freedom. Degrees of freedom is exactly what it sounds like … freedom to move about! How many ways you can move a joint when holding weight?
In lifting weights close to your 1RM (or one-rep maximum, the heaviest weight you can lift and complete the movement), it’s crucial to pay attention to correct form because there is more stress on the muscles, bones and tissues. A study at California State University, Dominguez Hills, found most injuries in lifting weights happen in the shoulder, lower back, hip and knee. So if you’re lifting heavy weights, make sure you pay attention to correct form.
Submaximal loads are those lighter loads below your 1RM. Those are the loads we really carry in our activities of daily living—laundry basket, groceries, babies. Those are the loads you’re able to lift for six, eight, 10, 15, 20 or more repetitions. The lighter the load, the more you will be able to move with variability in different planes of motion like you do in your everyday life … hence, more degrees of freedom. Even with lighter loads, paying attention to form is also necessary particularly in certain regions of your body such as your knees and your neck area, called the cervical spine.
The dark side of “perfect” form