A corrective exercise specialist explains the 3 most common mistakes she sees at the gym


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Photo: Stocksy/Kristen Curette and Daemaine Hines

Tatiana Lampa‘s job title is “corrective exercise specialist.” In her own words, that means she “helps clients prevent injuries, improve muscle imbalances, reduce movement deficiencies, and create strategic individualized programs that identify dysfunction and implement corrective exercise results.” She’s a professional when it comes to making sure gym goals don’t lead to injury.

“If we’re able to bring awareness on how to properly move we can decrease the percentage of injuries,” says Lampa. “Injuries can lead to a fear of working out for an extended period of time which should never be the case.” Even though every single body is unique, Lampa says that there are a few common mistakes she sees at the gym again and again. (And, of course, each one can be fixed with a quick form check-up).

The 3 gym mistakes a corrective exercise specialist sees people make at the gym

1. Push-ups

“I see a lot of people dip their forehead forward when doing a push-up,” says Lampa. “It’s that illusion that they’re going all the way down but the forward head action creates the overuse of the neck muscles and eventually tightnesses in their traps.” At the same time, says the specialist, she’ll see people arc their hips up to the sky.

The fix: “My cue to help adjust the forward head is ‘to bring their chest down and not their head’,” says Lampa. She also cues her clients to imagine that their thighs are going to touch the ground as they come down. “If they’re still having trouble with muscle [strength] on the ground, I would bring up onto a box and do an incline push up or wall push-ups.”

Master your push-up form:

2. Squats

Everyone’s favorite booty-busting move also makes Lampa’s list. “I see clients shift most of their weight onto their toes because they don’t have the proper ankle mobility to squat,” says the specialist.

The fix: “My first cue would be to open their stance a bit wider. If I still see an issue I would place a wedge underneath their heels (a plate can work also) this would help with their ankle mobility,” says Lampa. If you find that this is true for you, add some ankle mobility exercises to your warm-up.

The right way to do a squat:

3. Reverse Lunges

“For a reverse lunge, I see people overshoot the back leg into the lunge. This makes it difficult to bend the back knee and also adds in a hip flexor stretch. You’ll hear people say, ‘I just feel my hip flexors’,” says Lampa.

The fix: “A great cue to adjust this is to tell the client to not bring their leg too far back and to keep their back knee underneath their hips,” she says. The trick is to make your reverse lunge shorter than you think.

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