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5 Tips for Improved Movement and Injury Prevention

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Countless people seek emergency care for back pain, muscle strains, and similar injuries resulting from “moving wrong” during everyday tasks like bending to tie shoes, lifting objects, or doing household chores. Even basic movements like walking can lead to ER visits due to tripping or losing balance. Falls are a leading cause of ER visits, with over 9 million cases annually, and 1 in 4 older adults report falling each year, according to the CDC. These incidents highlight the importance of understanding proper movement mechanics to prevent avoidable harm. Here are five essential strategies to correct improper movement patterns, enhance movement quality, and minimize your risk of injury.

What Are ‘Wrong Moves’?

The most significant wrong move is not moving enough. The saying “move it or lose it” holds true as our bodies are designed for movement. Sedentary lifestyles make us more susceptible to injuries from unfamiliar movements. Proper movement involves using joints as they were designed. For example, hips and shoulders are ball-and-socket joints with 360-degree rotation, while knees are hinge joints with limited mobility. The thoracic spine is designed for rotation, unlike the lumbar spine. Engaging core muscles to support and stabilize during lifting or carrying is crucial to avoid low-back stress.

Twisting from your lumbar spine to get out of a car or compensating for hip immobility with your knees in a golf swing are wrong moves. Bending to pet a cat without hinging from your hips and knees or carrying heavy grocery bags without core engagement also put unnecessary stress on muscles, ligaments, and joints. Such improper movement patterns increase the risk of injury and compromise long-term functional performance.

How to Make the Right Moves

1. Master Primary Movement Patterns
Daily life involves movements like squatting, hinging, pushing, pulling, rotating, and core stabilization. Mastering these bodyweight movements with good form develops a foundation for safe and efficient movement in all aspects of life.

2. Practice Moving in All Planes of Motion
Incorporate exercises that involve moving forward, backward, side to side, and twisting. These movements cover the three planes of motion: sagittal (forward and backward), frontal (side to side), and transverse (rotational). This ensures your body is prepared for daily activities and sports.

3. Train for Better Balance
Balance training improves stability and proprioception, reducing the risk of falls and injury. Unilateral exercises, like single-leg Romanian deadlifts and lunges, enhance coordination and spatial awareness. Include balance exercises in every workout.

4. Include Strength Training in Your Workouts
Strength training increases muscle mass, bone density, joint stability, endurance, and metabolism. Aim to strength train two or more days per week, targeting different muscle groups through all primary movement patterns with good form.

5. Cultivate Your Mind-Body Connection
Move with intention by focusing on your breath and sensations during exercise. This awareness enhances movement efficiency and reduces injury risks from unintentional wrong moves. Practice progressive muscle relaxation several times a week to strengthen the mind-body connection.

Are you ready to start moving better and safeguarding your physical fitness? Try the 10-minute single dumbbell workout featured at the top of this article, which incorporates all five strategies. Injury prevention begins with understanding proper movement mechanics and practicing functional movement patterns consistently. Incorporate these five keys into your fitness routine and daily life to improve movement quality and reduce the risk of avoidable injuries.