Push-ups are one of the best body weight exercises you can do. When done correctly they work your pectoralis major (chest muscle), anterior deltoid (front shoulder), triceps, abdominal muscles, and even your quadriceps. That’s a whole lot of muscle work for just one movement! Proper push-ups will help you to increase the muscle tone and strength in your arms, abs, chest, and shoulders. However, often times I see this movement done incorrectly.
- Movement of the thoracic spine.
- Your spine should be braced and motionless during a push-up. Often times people will drop their chest down on the descent and then push their chest back up on the ascent. This puts increased pressure on the shoulders and spine and prevents proper muscle activation.
2. Movement of the Lumbar Spine.
- Movement of the lumbar spine during a push-ups increases disc pressure and can cause pain in the lower back. This problem can be solved by flexing the core muscles and quadriceps muscles. Tightening your abdominals and quads gives your lower back support by keeping it in a neutral position throughout the entire push-up motion.
If you experience wrist pain while doing push-ups, a good way to relieve this pain is by placing your hands on a horizontal bar which will take pressure off your wrist joint. You can also do your push-ups on your fists as in the diagrams above, however, be aware that this requires stability in the wrist joint.
A proper push-up should move all the way down to a 90 degree angle in the elbows and then push all the way back up to straight elbows, all while maintaining a neutral spine. If you are not able to complete a full push-up with the proper form then drop your knees to the ground for a modified version. You must still maintain the neutral spine in this position as in the diagram below.
If you are not quite ready for this type of push-up then give incline push-ups a try. This is where you elevate your hands off the ground to a height that will allow you to complete to full range of motion. As you get stronger and can slowly start to decrease the height as your strength improves. As I mentioned earlier, push-ups are one of the top 5 bodyweight exercises you can do to help increase your overall fitness. So start adding them into your workout regime today!!
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