Form is Function

by DavalosMcCormack on October 13, 2008

Have you ever seen those runners at the end of a marathon running as if their body was about to collapse in on itself. Their face is gaunt, their expression blank, their knees are wobbly and their legs appear to be going in every direction except straight ahead. It’s not a pretty sight, but it is a powerful illustration that when we’re tired one of the first things that disappears is our form.

I was reminded of that today when I saw a woman out running. She didn’t look as if she’d been running very far – at least not at the point that I saw her – she wasn’t sweaty, her face looked relaxed, but her legs had that wobbly-knees-folding-in-on-themselves look.

It struck me that that is how she always runs. And if that’s true, it didn’t look as if that was a particularly healthy or efficient way of doing it.

Form, in anything we do, is critical. The better your form the more efficiently you are moving, the more effectively you are using the muscles needed to perform a certain activity. A good runner seems to glide effortlessly along, their form is so clean and precise that they even make it look like fun (and that’s from someone who hates running)

The squash-pro at the gym I go to often uses a small video camera to tape people he is working with. Afterwards he gives them the tape to watch at home so they can see what they are doing, see what is working and what is not. It’s a great way of teaching.

When Shirley and I were doing our Dragon Boat training our coach explained to us the form and technique needed to paddle but it was only when we watched a video of other teams doing it properly that it clicked. What we were told by the coach suddenly made perfect sense because we were able to see it in action.

Most of us don’t have that advantage. When we go for a run we don’t have a camera crew following us along and videotaping us so we can see how good our style is, if we tend to flail with our arms, if we are running on our heels or the front of our feet.

But what you can do is get a treadmill and set up a camera behind it so you can tape yourself running.  Videotape yourself running for about ten minutes, that should be enough to give you a good sense of how you look when you run. Once you see what you are doing you get a better idea of what changes you need to make to your style or stride.

But it’s not just in running or other aerobic activities that form is important. It’s important in everything. That’s one of the reasons why gyms have mirrors in the weight room so you can watch what you are doing and make sure your form is good.

If you are not sure you are doing it correctly you can get a personal trainer for a couple of sessions and have them work with you on it.

Or if you are cheap like me you can watch someone who has a personal trainer and pick up tips from them for free!

There’s also a wealth of sites on the web that show you the correct form for pretty nearly any exercise you can think of. Just google away. It could save you a lot of wasted effort and energy in your workout. Even better, it could help you avoid injuring yourself.

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