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Add Corrective Exercise for Injury Prevention

Does your exercise consist purely of going for a run or taking group exercise classes? Or maybe you only do weight training. As a fitness coach and exercise scientist, I see far too many people who do not take warm-ups seriously – until they get injured to the point where they must cease training activities to heal.

Experiencing injury is practically inevitable if the human body is not prepared for the movement demands placed on it. Common injuries that happen to a runner or group exercise enthusiast, are plantar fasciitis, lower back pain, and knee pain. In my estimation, injuries do not sneak up on us, but rather they stem from improper technique and overuse injury.

Here’s where corrective exercise comes in handy.

Corrective exercise is basically a game plan to counteract the inadequate preparation and target problem areas. It is focused on foam rolling tight muscles, stretching tight muscles, increasing heart rate, and combining movements of under-active muscles in synchronization before any training session starts, e.g., a warm-up phase. The best program depends on the individual. However, most corrective exercise protocols should include an element of myofascial release (e.g., foam rolling) along with static stretching, single-joint movements, and multi-joint movements.

In our hypothetical example, we determined that Susan has tight quadriceps and tight calves. In our corrective exercise program, we may assign her:

  • foam rolling for the upper thigh and foam rolling for the calves and lower legs – see below for instructions on performing self-myofascial release exercises*
  • a quadricep stretch and single-leg calf stretch
  • a dynamic warmup, such as a wall squat with an exercise ball behind her or a simple overhead squat

*Self-Myofascial Release, or SMR, involves putting an object on the surface of the skin to “break up” muscle adhesions and knots. Examples are foam rollers, tennis balls, and lacrosse balls. The smaller the surface area of the object, the more “precise” you are going to get at targeting the area. Science is not sure if it “actually” breaks up muscle tissue, as it is simply done on the surface of the skin; however, proprioceptors on the skin perceive SMR and probably benefit the most by informing the brain of the nice, relaxed feeling of muscles lengthening. Note: If you are sore, roll at night or in the morning away from your actual exercise session. In conclusion, SMR is a tool, not magic, and may work for you if you need a perceived quick release of muscle tension.

by Dominick LaMorgia, HealthEase Fitness Professional