Everyone has their own go-to workouts: hour-long boxing classes, solo strength training sessions, long runs — the possibilities are endless.
But week after spending week or even year after year repeating the same motions or always moving in one plane of motion with little to no balance can lead to overuse injuries and pain, says Joe Gambino, C.S.C.S., D.P.T., a New York-based physical therapist.
To combat these overuse injuries, shoot for a little variety and change up the way you sweat every now and then. If you’re a runner, try a HIIT class. If you’re a boxer, give yoga a try. But that’s just to shake up your routine — you don’t have to give up the forms of fitness that you love most. Sometimes, you just have to do a little bit of specific, targeted prep work before you hop on the bike or hit the trail.
“One way to prepare our body for our workouts is through a concept of reverse posturing,” explains Gambino. Reverse posturing tasks you to look at your workout, then, before you start, counteract its most repetitive positions.
“Doing movements that add variety to your day-to-day training will help give your tissues a break and allow us to reduce the risk of creating strength imbalances,” says Gambino.
Consider the below moves your new warm-ups for your favorite activities. These pre-workout exercises will balance out your fitness routine, no matter how you like to sweat.
The Warm Ups
Before Cycling: Periscopes
“When we bike, we are in a flexed position at the hips, knees, and even our spines,” says Gambino. “In order to balance out this pattern, make sure you add extension into the mix.”
Try: 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps, holding the top for 5 seconds.
Before a Run: Single Leg Balance with Band Resistance
Single-leg balance may not be a “reverse posture” exercise, but this kind of work targets and builds strength in a widely neglected area of the body: the feet.
“We put these gloves on our feet called sneakers, and we end up with weak intrinsic muscle strength of the foot, which in turn causes a decrease in forefoot stability and balance,” says Gambino. “Taking care of our feet is one way to reduce the number of overuse injuries in runners.”
Gambino encourages clients to do the work without sneakers, since you’ll build foot strength by activating the intrinsic muscles of the feet.
Try to work your way up to a one-minute hold.
Before Strength Training or HIIT: Lateral Lunges
Strength training and HIIT workouts don’t always mimic natural movement in the quest to build muscle and burn fat — and the amount of forward to back movements can neglect the other two planes of motion, says Gambino. Lateral Lunges add frontal plane (side-to-side) motion into your work while also strengthening the legs and stretching out adductors muscles, a problem area for many people.
Try: 3 sets of 6 to 12 reps per side.
Before Boxing: TRX Rows (or another rowing variation)
Adding rows and focusing on strengthening your back before throwing tons of punches does more to just balance out the movements. A stronger, more stable back will help you generate more force when you punch, too, says Gambino. “My suggestion with your strength training is to double or triple the number of pull exercises (back) compared to your pushing exercises (chest).”
Try: 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
By Cassie Shortsleeve