Monthly Archives: September 2015

Good body alignment during squats and lunges

Correct exercise technique is important not just for optimum fitness results but also to keep your body safe and thus (hopefully) injury-free. A very common error, most often because of lack of knowledge, people do not squat or lunge correctly. There are a myriad of factors that influence a person’s ability to do either one of these such as leg strength, familiarity, pelvic stability and body awareness, so it is important to get as many of these (ideally all) as correct as possible to reduce injury risk.

Exercise type: squat

How to do a squat

A basic squat involves keeping your feet about shoulder-width apart, spine upright, chest up then pushing the hips backwards and bending the knees as in the image below. The position of the arms can assist in balance if needed.

A basic lunge involves stepping forward, bending the knees to go downwards while maintain an upright spine and level hips, then pushing upwards again to reverse the motion and step back to the starting position.

Exercise type: lunge

How to do a lunge

So to achieve a healthy body alignment in either of these exercises it is important to be aware of what your body is doing throughout the movement – using a mirror and a spotter is a great way to achieve this. Traditionally “knees behind the toes” is a good general cue to help with alignment: one should always aim to keep the knee joint behind the toes, even over the ankle joint itself of possible, to keep the shear forces going through the knee at a minimum (these forces may lead to overuse of the cartilage in the knee and increase the chances of an injury). Another great way of getting this alignment right is to keep your knee over the second toe of the foot. Therefore, you should still be able to see your toes when performing a squat or alunge as in the picture here.20150901_132102Also important to remember is to check on whether your knee is caving inwards which often happens if the foot is over-pronated upsetting the biomechanics of all the bones in the ankle, shin, knee, thigh and pelvis. This next picture shows an example of this which I found on https://www.silversurfers.com in an article called The Strength of Strength.

Correct alignment

Body alignment when lunging

Because we all have different body types and are at varying stages of strength and ability when exercising some people may find it more difficult to achieve the ideal alignment, but as long as you aim to get most of these alignments right, with practice, lunges and squats will become easier to do which will also make it easier to find and correct any issues. However, if you are in doubt or need extra help then get some more professional help with your exercise techniques.

Pool session

How can a biokineticist help you?

What is it that we do? And how do you pronounce this long word? Well first of all, the long word can simply be shortened to “bio” which is much easier to say. Secondly, it can be broken down into exactly what we do: “bio-“ means life, anything to do with the body. “Kinetics” refers to movement, energy. This gives you “life through movement” which is also the slogan of our Biokinetics Association (www.biokinetics.org.za).

In essence a bio uses movement and exercise as medicine.

Biokinetics exercises in action

Exercise as medicine

As a biokinetics student we have to learn physiology and anatomy so that we know what the body is made up of and how it works, then what can go wrong and finally we are taught how to fix it using exercise prescription. Each person who walks through the door is different even if they have the same condition and therefore each person will have unique needs and responses to the movements and exercises prescribed. An initial full depth assessment is necessary to establish these needs and give the me, the bio, a detailed picture of the state of the body: muscle tone, posture, pain levels, previous injuries and medical history.

Hip joint range of motion

How far can you move?

This big picture is then broken down into phases of exercise adaptation over some weeks where the patient must learn better or new movement patterns, muscle control, correct muscle activation. Normally I prescribe a set of exercises to do at home which complements what is done in sessions with me. As various milestones and goals are met the exercises are made more complex and challenging until the maintenance or return to sport phase is achieved – the patient is no longer a patient and is fully recovered and can once again live life.

So in short, the body functions like a (kinetic) chain: if one link is weakened or not working the way it should all the other links will be affected in some way eventually. It is the bio’s job to identify this weakest link, find out why it’s not performing as it should and prescribe the correct exercises to fix this to what is was and preferably to make it even better.

Walking on the treadmill

Moving is good for us!