Proper form and alignment are the foundation of any exercise. We hear so much about “form” as it relates to fitness, that for many, it has become a moot point. To be in good form means your body is in a strong, supportive position, from the soles of your feet to the crown of your head. This allows your frame (i.e., the skeletal segments of your body) to be properly aligned, with your muscles fully supporting your joints. By maintaining form and alignment, you create a strong core from which you can maximize your exercises and prevent injuries. This concept isn’t just for exercise, it also relates to any physical movement—from walking to household chores—and even sitting!
Form and alignment take on new dimensions when you’re working out outdoors. The terrain outside is varied and ever-changing. Rarely will you find terrain to be completely flat; there’s usually a curve, undulation, incline or decline. To keep your exercises effective and your body safe from injury, you need to stay aligned with the terrain underfoot.
It’s all about body intelligence
Remember, form and alignment are as important to exercise as the movements themselves. Paying attention to your posture, and keeping your body aligned and evenly weighted, keeps you safe from injury, makes your movements more efficient and powerful, and helps your “body intelligence.” Over time, as you stick to great form and posture, your body will learn the feeling of alignment, and will fall into form more easily and naturally.
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Quick Tip: Find the Fall Line
The natural downhill course of any slope is called the Fall Line. When you exercise outdoors, you’re often working on ground that is not level. This is great for your body and your mind, but it requires that you make adjustments to align yourself properly, and safely, on uneven terrain.
When preparing for an exercise on outdoor ground, be sure to first analyze the fall line so that you can properly align your body on the uneven terrain. For example, when aligning for a squat on a slope, face the fall line—that is, face downhill—with your back to the uphill slope. Now, distribute your weight evenly between both feet. To ensure that you don’t slip, weight your heels more than your toes. If more pressure is applied through the forefoot, there’s a very good chance you’ll slide onto your behind!