Adjusting technique to minimize impact

The subtle changes in the use of impact aerobics, combined with public education regarding levels of impact, have altered the views of a large portion of the exercise population. Now, combining the high-energy impact moves with low-impact steps has created a new area called "light" aerobics.

We've been through the "traveling" stage of movement, and through "arm wagging," and found that for some people, there were injuries to be found even in very low-impact moves. Whether you jog on cement, dirt or soft sand, you may still incur stress on leg, ankle and knee areas. So, it isn't the sport you have chosen, but the level and impact movement during the exercise that may cause injury.

Most people go through several types of physical exercise before they find the one best suited for them. Time and location of the intended sport is no small factor in the final choice. If you like a sport, and the time and location, then here are a few ways to adjust those impact moves to safely keep you in your sport.

First of all, take a good look at your ankles, your knees and those feet. Line them up and stare at them in the mirror.

To check your arch levels wet your feet and walk on paper. Have a good critical look at the areas of stress that are involved in your impact moves. If you can find no reason for your feet to not carry you through 30 minutes of aerobics, then concentrate on your method of movement. When your foot comes up, make sure it points to the floor and does not turn in.

Watch your knees when you run to make sure the angle from the hip to the knee and from the knee to the ankle is the same all the way down to the floor when you make a complete step. In other words, you run straight, with no flopping, flying side movements.

Important to remember: When you come down on that toe during aerobic workouts, be sure you roll to the heel, it will cut your impact as much as 40 percent. And the farther apart you put those legs during running sequences, the less the impact also. It's important to use those long muscles in your thighs, so lift your legs during the kicks and keep your other foot glued to the floor.

Low impact does not mean low intensity. Relax your spine down to your ankles when you run and let your whole body gradually absorb the shock of footstrike.

"Step touch side lunges" while standing are also an excellent way to get around a lot of bounce. Arms held over the head will increase pulse rates, but do little for stroke volumes unless you are really lifting your legs and working the muscles. All of these methods of compromise are easy to learn, and that is the key, to learn the proper method and sport for you.

Even if you prefer a certain type of fitness, you may not be able to perform it unless you adjust your thinking and your impact moves.

• Jerry Vance is the owner of Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through the Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.


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