4 Corrective Exercises: Key Ways to Lower Risk of Injury and Aid in Pain Management

By Travis Johnson –

Since the 1980s, our lives have gotten easier with technology and automation. This new environment is producing more inactive, less healthy and nonfunctional people who are more prone to injury.  Musculoskeletal pain is more common now than it was 40 years ago.  As we are a little more inactive and nonfunctional, health and fitness professionals must take into consideration the possible muscle imbalances of a person due to their sedentary lifestyle and create a personal fitness program.

When it comes to the lower extremities, plantar fasciitis accounts for more than one million doctor visits per year. One of the most common forms of musculoskeletal degeneration is lower back pain. Lower back pain affects nearly 80% of all adults, especially those who sit for periods greater than three hours, such as office workers and those who are in their vehicles for long periods of time. Knee injuries are also a concern, as there are an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 ACL injuries that occur annually.  The majority of these knee injuries are non-contact.  When it comes to upper extremities, 21% of the general population suffer from shoulder pain, with the primary diagnosis being shoulder impingement.

If we can condition our musculoskeletal system, it will directly influence the chance of lowering the risk of injury.  There are many training programs for exercise and conditioning, but many of them neglect proper training guidelines, as well as neglect proper form. They also do not address potential muscle imbalances achieved from a sedentary lifestyle. This can result in a weakened structure and can lead to injury.

With many having a sedentary lifestyle, training programs cannot be the same as they were 20 years ago.  The new mindset in fitness should cater to creating fitness programs that address every individual, potential muscle imbalances and daily tasks performed.   This is the definition of Corrective Exercise, which includes an assessment, a personal corrective program design and implementation of corrective exercise techniques.

Being assessed on what you may need within your fitness program is essential, and once the program is designed, implementing the program is a vital key to keeping you from being sedentary and lowering your risk of injury. This program will also help with alleviating some of the pain perhaps caused by a previous injury.  Effectiveness of the fitness program is very important.  Here are a few exercises that are very popular and are not as always done as effectively as they need to be in order to prevent injury.


The first image focuses on the shoulder joint.  The next image highlights how many end up injuring their shoulder during the bench press exercises, when their elbows are at 90 degrees and away from their bodies.  This motion puts a great deal of stress on the shoulder joint and less stress on the pectoralis major ,which is the muscle that needs to be emphasized.  The first image illustrates a more effective way of doing the bench press exercise.  The elbows are closer to the body, which relieves stress on the shoulder, and focuses on putting the emphasis on the chest muscle.


Shown is a common range of motion when doing this exercise, which takes the emphasis out of the back and ends up creating tension in the neck.  The shoulders are rolling forward and the scapula is protracted in the first photo.  The next photo is the effective way to do a cable back row. The scapula is retracted, and the body is in an upright position, which is beneficial for your core. This effective range of motion will allow you to feel this exercise in the correct back muscles.


Pay attention to your knees when doing lunges and squats. There is more risk for leg injury with bad form. In the image on the right, the knee is buckling in, which keeps this exercise from being as effective. The picture on the left is the effective way to do this exercise and minimizes the risk of injury.


The plank in the right picture puts too much stress on the lower back and is not an effective way to work the core. The lack of alignment in the spine shows a possible muscle imbalance. To keep the plank effective, as in the left photo, neutral spine position shows good balance of muscles and helps at working the core without any stress on the lower back.

With technology and automation keeping us from moving as much or being as active, the general population is at greater risk for injury. To lower the risk of injury and aid in pain management, start a personal Corrective Exercise program that will focus on effective forms of flexibility, as well increase strength and neuromuscular control.