Exercise is fantastic for your health, and done correctly improves the condition of your joints and muscles. But there are some exercises that place an unnecessarily large burden on your body.
Sit-ups are an incredibly popular way to tone the six-pack area, but, as long-term followers of this column will know, repeat flexion of the lumbar spine (lower back) is a sure-fire way of damaging inter-spinal discs. Replace these with planks and your abs will still develop, but without damage to your low back.
- Behind The Head Press
Ideally you should perform a shoulder press with dumbbells to help engage shoulder stabilisers. But if you are using a bar, ensure the bar stays in front of your head. Letting the bar pass behind your head places enormous strain on the bicep tendon and is eventually going to lead to damage.
- Shoulder Shrugs
Shrugging the shoulders whilst holding weights is designed to develop the upper trapezius muscles, those that come from the neck to the shoulder. These muscles tend to receive enough of a workout from general movements of the arm and neck, and emphasising this causes problems with shoulder mechanics as well as neck problems.
- Side Bends
Similar to sit-ups, side bends are often used to strengthen core muscles but don’t work them in a way that is sympathetic to your spine. Remember, core stability means being able to keep your core still in the face of resistance. Replace side bends with a single-arm farmer’s walk where you walk with a weight in one hand, trying to maintain an upright posture.
- Upright Rows
Standing, drawing a barbell up your chest to your chin, this exercise causes the humerus (arm bone) to collide with the top of shoulder blade. This causes pinching of rotator cuff tendons. In addition, this exercise stresses the biceps tendon and develops the upper trapezius. One to avoid.