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As with all workouts, warm-ups and cooldowns are key with the mini steppers.
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Before you start using a new piece of fitness equipment, it's important to learn how to use it properly. With a mini-stepper machine, using it properly involves standing on the foot pedals and pressing down in an alternating fashion. Beyond that, be aware of your posture and the gear you're using while you're on the machine.
Whether you're using the stepper in a seated position or standing up, proper posture is key to using it correctly. In a standing position, tighten your abdominals and maintain a neutral spine. Pull your shoulders back and down. You should only use a machine such as this if you're free of balance issues -- but just in case, keep the machine within a foot or two of a wall so you can hold onto it if you should need a little stabilizing.
Proper posture is also key in the seated position. Maintain a tight core and avoid arching your back. Having the resistance setting set high may result in a tendency to curve your spine. Press down on each foot pedal until it's pressed downward fully and then allow that foot to travel upward as you press down with the opposite foot.
Proper footwear is also going to help you maintain proper form. Use an athletic shoe that provides you with support around the ankle, foot and heel. Likewise, athletic or loose-fitting clothing will help you move freely. When your clothing is too tight or restrictive, you may not be able to stand up straight or pull your shoulders back and down. In some cases, tight clothing can even make it hard to breathe.
Condition of the Machine
As with any type of exercise equipment, it's important to make sure it's in proper working order. Check its owner's manual to make sure all parts are in place and that they're correctly installed. Some machines may require oiling of the pistons from time to time or the steppers may become hard to press up or down. Also be sure to set the machine on a flat floor that is free of dust or other obstructions. Mini steppers generally have a weight limit -- so don't use them if you're beyond that limit.