Well Fit Seattle
Well Fit Seattle

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ABC Form Fundamentals

Posted: April 3, 2014 | Fitness


While we each are at our own individual places with fitness, there are a few form reminders that almost everyone can benefit from. Thinking about the “ABCs of Form” is a useful way to remember how to engage your body, not only while exercising, but in everyday movement too. Each of these touchpoints supports the others, and together they can help you cultivate good technique when beginning a new exercise or to check in with your habits when performing movements that you have been doing for a long time.

Abdominal bracing engages the core and helps to keep your lower back safe and allows for strong movement of your limbs.

To find that action, first you draw your pelvic floor up, and then brace your abdominal muscles by both drawing your low belly up and in toward your spine, and allowing your side waists to expand. The action is similar to what you might instinctively do if you were protecting yourself from being punched in the stomach. Place your hands on your waist as you try this and you will feel it expand.

Unless you are doing a physical activity that requires significant stabilization, using abdominal bracing during exercise and daily movement doesn’t require strongly contracting the core muscles all of the time. The strength of the contraction forms the foundational stability necessary for safe movement. As we become more conscious of using abdominal bracing, our cores contract in response to how we are moving.


‘B’ stands for BREATHING
Our bodies are designed to breathe deeply, which gives us the most oxygen, keeps us the most relaxed and places the least stress on our muscles and posture. As our diaphragm contracts our lungs fill like a balloon, expanding our ribs front and back, side to side and up and down.  As the diaphragm contracts it pushes down, emptying the contents of the abdomen, and as we exhale our bellies sink back.

Sometimes we ‘forget’ how to breathe properly and we begin to breathe only from our chests. This places a lot of stress on our necks and upper backs, as well as limiting the amount of oxygen that we get into our bodies.

Check this out for yourself while you are sitting or lying down. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly and breathe naturally. Feel which hand moves first. If you are breathing properly you will feel your hand on your belly gently rise and fall.

If that isn’t what you are feeling, stick with it and try to bring your breathing deeper into your lungs. This is a great daily practice until you get the hang of it. When exercising we are trying to keep this type of breathing going all the time.


‘C’ stands for CHIN TUCK
Many of us sit at desks for long hours and do much of our work at the computer or at least in front of our bodies. As our shoulders round forward our heads follow. This posture often accompanies chest breathing and places a lot of stress on our necks and shoulders. Tucking our chins returns the head, neck, and shoulders into proper alignment.

To practice the chin tuck, bring your shoulders back and down and draw your chin in while lengthening the back of your neck. You will often hear me say during workout ‘tuck your chin’ or ‘draw your shoulder blades down your back’. Another good daily practice is to take multiple micro-breaks throughout the day to practice this position.




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