Physical Therapists have a love/hate relationship with certain exercises and activities. We cringe at the idea of certain types of exercises, because we know they cause damage to your shoulders and will bring you into the clinic, wincing in pain. Of course, there’s something in it for us, when you do: at least we can be glad for job security.
1. Head Stands
This should be a no-brainer, but this activity is accompanied by high risk of neck injury. The vertebrae in your neck were not designed to bear your body weight.
Even if you relieve some of the pressure by using your arms, you’re putting too much strain on those neck muscles. The accolades and improved blood flow to your heard are not worth the potential trauma and resulting pain.
2. Hand Stand Push-Ups
Okay, I know these things are pretty hard to do, and they’re definite crowd pleasers.
However, the risk of falling directly on your head is extremely high, so don’t even be tempted to do these.
Even a moment’s lapse of shoulder power can cause buckling and intense nerve pain, which can last sometimes for months after the injury.
You can work the same muscles by performing seated overhead presses, so this kind of risky activity is just not worthwhile at all.
3. Heavy Dead Lifts
While harmless when performed with light weights and without flexing of the lower back, heavy dead lifts often wreak havoc on your back.
The “shearing” that takes place along the lumbar vertebrae and herniated discs are not worth the kind of pain and rehabilitation that comes with that kind of injury.
If you’re intentionally trying to injure your back, then heavy dead lifts are an exercise that will probably eventually hurt you. However, if you exercise smart, either stay away from heavy dead lifts or only do them with light weights and without flexing your lower back.
4. One-Armed Pull-Ups
Again, these are pretty impressive. However, pull-ups should be performed only with both arms, when the weight can be spread across both arms and symmetrical lifting can take place.
When too much force is put on the smaller muscles of the forearm, tendonitis in the wrist flexors can result. Because the shoulder is forced into an unnatural position, rotator cuff problems can occur, as well.
5. Knee Extensions
Let me clarify: It’s not extending the knee that causes the problem; it’s using the machine on which you straighten your knee without the knee being fixed on the floor.
This is not a “functional” motion, so especially those with patellar tracing issues can cause more harm than good. Instead of using those machines, squatting activities or leg presses would be preferable.
6. Straight Bar Pull-Downs
This kind of exercise goes behind the neck, creating explosive heaving movements of heaving weight. The result is straining the smaller muscles of the neck. Instead, try using lighter weights instead of running the risk of breaking form.
If you don’t want to keep your local physical therapist in business on your own, consider eliminating these exercises and activities from your life.
PhysioDC of Washington, D.C.
Daniel Baumstark and his professional team of physical therapists operate a boutique physical therapy office in downtown Washington, D.C. From athletes to government officials, and from ballerinas to corporate executives, PhysioDC helps people recover, strengthen and return to healthy living. Visit their website at www.PhysioDC.com or call them at 202-223-8500.