Everyone wants to workout safely and effectively but some exercises can cause more damage rather then helping us. It is important to realize that just because an exercise might make us stronger, it does not mean that it will not cause injuries. Having worked for a physical clinic as a physical therapy aide, I have seen many injuries that are caused from performing exercises incorrectly in the gym. I have decided to compile a list of exercises that all us of should avoid
Exercise # 1 Full squats with the knees going past the toes-A squat is an excellent exercise when performed correctly. Proper form is crucial with a squat and if the knees go past our toes, it puts too much extra stress on our knees. Research shows this could possibly lead to injury which can easily be avoided. Recently some professionals have said that it is okay for the knees to go past the toes during a squat. It is simply not worth the risk of injuring the knees and this outweighs any benefit that might be gained.
Exercise # 2 Lat pull down performed behind the neck-A lat pull down is another exercise that can be effective and safe if performed correctly. A lat pull down should always be performed in front of the body. Research shows the neck can be strained when pulling the bar behind the head. This is also a bad idea for our shoulders since this range of motion can lead to shoulder injuries. This range of motion is not normal for our bodies and should be avoided.
Exercise # 3 Leg extension using a full range of motion-The leg extension machine has been used in gyms for a long time. We know it can build strength in the quadriceps muscle but when the knee is fully extended, this may put extra stress on the knee joint. A partial range of motion without locking out is highly effective in building strength and muscle around the knee. Research studies have shown the ligaments in the knee may be damaged with this exercise. This is because the exercise draws the patella back into the femur increasing joint compressive forces. In my experience, squats and lunges are just as valuable in building muscles in our legs.
Exercise # 4 Shoulder press behind the neck-I have worked with physical therapists who have said this exercise places the shoulders in a bad position. Physical therapists have also said it is possible that this exercise can lead to a dislocated shoulder. This range of motion is not safe for our neck or shoulders. Similar to a lat pull down, we should not be pulling or pushing anything behind our heads.
Exercise #5 A full sit-up with the feet anchored-This is a very old fashioned exercise that is not effective in working our abdominals. When our feet are anchored the stress is placed on our hip flexors and not our abdominals. Research shows the shearing forces on the vertebrae and spinal discs when the spine is flexed and rounded can cause small ruptures.
Exercise #6 Bringing the bar to touch our chest during the bench press-The bench press is a great exercise that has been around for years and is highly effective. When we touch the bar to our chest it can put our shoulders at risk for injury such as a torn rotator cuff. It is safer to limit our range of motion during the bench press to protect our shoulders. Most strength and conditioning professionals might instruct athletes to go through full range of motion. Strength gains are made without bringing the bar down past 90 degrees; furthermore a full range of motion is not necessary.
It is important to consult with a doctor before beginning any exercise program. When a person is cleared to exercise, the fitness professional needs to go through exercise history including a list of injuries. This will minimize the risk of further injuring someone with a history of injuries. It is important to take proper precautions and avoid the high risk exercises so that painful and impairing injuries can be avoided.