5 Exercises That Make Me Cringe

This time of year gyms across the country are full of eager people trying to get in shape for the summer. While they may have good intentions, poor exercise choices or technique do more than sculpt muscles; they wreak havoc on your joints. Here s a list of my current top 5 most useless exercises, and why they do more harm than good. #1 Lat Pull Downs - Behind the Neck - Pulling behind the neck forces you into poor posture. Its also stressful, and potentially dangerous for your cervical spine or neck. Additionally, your moving your arms against their natural scapular plane, placing the shoulder joint in a compromising end range of motion. While its great you are working some pulls into your push dominant routine, a better way to perform this movement, would be in front of your face, down to your collar bone. Keep your shoulders down, and your shoulder blades pulled together. You ll continue to reap the same muscle and strength building benefits, without the potential for injury.


#2 Sit-ups & Crunches - Again, your putting more stress on your neck and spine, than your abs. With the exception of getting out of bed once a day, this is a pointless exercise. Train those same six pack building muscles with these core stability exercises, and save your spine.




#3 Protracted Rows with lower back flexion- Everybody does this. It feels like you are getting more range of motion. Its also allows you to move more weight. Unfortunately, your putting undue stress on your shoulder joints, scapulas, and lower back. Sit up tall, keep your shoulders down and relaxed, and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Spare your shoulders and spine and focus the attention on the muscle building effects of your upper back and biceps.



#4 Dumbbell Side Bends - So you want to burn those love handles? They're there because of a poor diet, not a lack of lateral flexion. A flexed and rotated spine is a great way to blow a disk in your lower back. Give your lumbar vertebrae a break and try some of the lateral stability exercises, I have here. I promise they re a lot more challenging for your obliques, and a lot better for your lower back.




#5 Bench Dips - Dips are a great upper body push for the chest, shoulders and triceps. They are also very challenging. Doing bench dips with your feet supported on the floor is not a regression. Again, you're placing a tremendous amount of anterior pressure on your shoulder joint, which can lead to soft tissue damage. If you struggle with a traditional dip, supplement with machine assisted dips or other elbow extension exercises, until you are strong enough to perform this movement correctly. Many of us could still get a lot out of the traditional pushing exercises before moving on to dips, but never bench dips.

Open Chain Exercises

A client recovering from plantar fascitis, recently inquired about incorporating some leg work into his routine that did not involve standing or bearing weight on the affected foot. "You are probably thinking of some of the "open chain" leg machines we have when you first enter the gym. Open chain meaning, your feet are not connected to the floor while loading your lower limbs. Open chain exercises put undue stress on your joints, and eliminate vital sensory input from your feet being in contact with the ground. Aside from being contra indicative for preexisting joint issues, they really arent good for anyone. Beyond selling memberships, these machines are pretty worthless. They gained some popularity with the weight training boom in the 70s, spearheaded by body building (lots of aesthetically isolating, dysfunctional movements) Statistically, more people are hurt each year using machines than free weights. They force you into a one size fits all plane of motion and can mislead normal proprioception as you just go with the flow. The science behind training is shifting towards more functional, multi-muscle, multi-joint movements that simulate and reinforce real world activity or sport. Typcally leg extension/curl, and inner outer thigh machines isolate muscles that perform better in unison and should not be isolated. You also are nt burning alot of calories when performing these movements."

Ice, Heat, or NSAIDS for acute injuries??

When should you apply ice, heat or anti-inflammatories to that new or nagging injury? Injuries can be generalized as either acute - sudden onset and short-lived, or chronic - slow onset, and long-term.

Acute injuries are a result of sudden or recent trauma, characterized by mild to severe pain, redness of the skin, and swelling. Immediate treatment should be R.I.C.E.. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Rest and immobilize the injured site immediately and for the next 24-72 hours, icing the area for 15-20 minutes at a time, with an hour off in between, to allow the skin to return to body temperature, compress the site, and elevate at or above your heart, to reduce inflammation. NSAIDs - Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs can be taken as directed to further reduce swelling. If you are not showing signs of improvement within a few days, seek a sports-medicine professional.

Chronic injuries tend to be more subtle and slow to develop. They may be the result of an acute injury, but can not always be traced to a single incident. They are often the result of overuse or dysfunction, and are characterized by dull aching pain, soreness or stiffness. Heat, before activity, is the best treatment for these injuries, moist heat is best. Hot towels, heating pads or athletic hot packs applied to the affected area, promote circulation and elasticity of the joint or muscle tissues that do not suffer from inflammation. Icing after activity may aid recovery and prevent inflammation. Persistent pain lasting more than a week without improvement should be evaluated by a medical professional.