By Eric Said - Leader of Learning
on Monday, 7 November 2016
  • Personal Trainers
  • Fitness Industry
  • Learning
  • Health

This article could easily be named Mindful movement and injury prevention.  When prescribing or selecting an exercise to perform you must ask yourself the all important question, “Why?”


Answering the question of why we perform particular exercises will assist us in finding value in the functionality of their movement.  For example, picking up a slam ball from the floor with good form will assist you in picking up a child from the floor.  This in turn will prevent lumbar strain or possibly knee injury.


Mindfulness is the ability to find quality in a state of consciousness and awareness.  Most injuries tend to occur simply because we are fatigued, distracted or have a lack of education of how to perform the movement correctly and what cues to focus on.  Hence, a lack of concentration.


Mindful exercise is developing the sound awareness to the biofeedback of the body in its space and moment.  At PT National, we recommend that you develop a mindful presence to the following seven (7) fundamental themes during exercise:-


  1. Foot positioning
  2. Posture with head and neck alignment
  3. Breathing during the eccentric phase of the lift (muscle lengthening phase)
  4. Breathing during the concentric phase of the lift (shortening phase)
  5. Gripping the bar, weight or handle
  6. Knee positioning
  7. Gluteal activation


To further develop an understanding of mindful exercise we may reflect on Formula 1®.  A Formula 1® car will have a network of computers obtaining data throughout the race on its performance.  Using the information obtained, the team can make the necessary changes to further enhance performance of the car and its driver. 


When performing exercise, we should be no different.  You must utilise proprioception and biofeedback to the spinal cord and brain to make the instantaneous and necessary modifications to ensure that the movement is performed correctly.

Analysing your running technique is a common place to start.  Recognising key signs and symptoms throughout the run is crucial to prevent overuse injuries due to poor biomechanics.  This may include gait pattern, posture, and muscle fatigue. Wearable devices can also assist in obtaining information such as heart rate, distance travelled, calories burned, average pace, and time elapsed for review.


This is ultimately how injuries are prevented when exercising.


Other examples of mindful exercise that may alter your perception of how to train next time may include:


  • Squat – the sensation of pushing both feet deep into the floor will further activate the quadriceps
  • Dumbbell fly – imagining you are hugging a tree at the end phase of the fly will pre-fatigue the pectorals and promote hypertrophy (muscle growth)
  • Bicep curl - relaxing the shoulders during the bicep curl will further target the long head of bicep during the eccentric phase (downward phase)
  • Lunge – activating the pelvic floor during the downward phase will create further balance, stability and proprioception
  • Running – breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth with relaxed shoulders will slow the body despite running at the same speed or cadence
  • Sit up – relaxing the head and neck and drawing in your naval into the spine will activate your transverse abdominis (TA) and prevent lumbar strain.


Next time you are exercising, whether in the gym, at home or outdoors please be mindful of the way you are moving.  Develop an appreciation for taking the time to improve your health and fitness and listen to what your body is telling you, making the necessary adjustments you feel fit or with the guidance of a fitness professional.