As more and more doctors continue to join the campaign against the growing obesity epidemic, people are finding themselves faced with constant reminders of the importance of proper nutrition and exercise. With so many people telling you to exercise, it’s hard to imagine that it could ever be a bad thing, after all, it gets you out of the house, gets your heart rate up and helps you shed the excess weight that compresses against your spine. However, not all exercises are created equally, and there are several you should avoid because they can cause permanent damage to the muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounding your spine, as well as your vertebrae.
Sit-Ups – Many people have been taught that the only way to obtain abs worthy of showing off at the beach is to complete hundreds of sit-ups per day. In reality, sit-ups are one of the most counter-productive exercises, and they put a lot of unnecessary tension and strain on the muscles in your neck and shoulders. You might think that adding extra resistance in the form of having a friend press down on your feet while you complete your sit-ups will provide better results, but in fact, this puts you at high risk of a lower back injury. Instead of making your neck and back vulnerable, focus on strengthening your core by doing yoga and pilates, or by going for a swim.
Bench Pressing – Bench pressing is commonly seen as the ultimate show of strength, but in reality, it’s an injury waiting to happen. Bench pressing often results in strains and tears in the shoulder muscles, as well as crushing injuries to the neck should your arms give out and the bar falls. A much more effective – and safe – way to get ripped is to go swimming, do push-ups or use weight machines that target the muscles in your chest and arms.
Lat Pull-Downs – Lat pull-downs work directly against your body’s natural range of motion, putting you at high risk of a cervical spine injury or a torn rotator cuff. The bar could also slam into the back of your neck, causing a host of other, critical injuries. Skip this exercise entirely.
Squats – While squats are great for building your glutes, they put a lot of strain on your knees and lower back. Landing improperly could cause you to force your vertebrae out of proper alignment, or could strain the muscles throughout your back. Instead, use a glute machine or leg press to target and build these muscles in a safer manner.
Jumping Jacks – Like squats, the danger in doing jumping jacks lies in the way you land. Since many people enjoy jumping jacks because they get their heart rates pumping, choose a low-impact cardio exercise instead, such as an elliptical trainer.
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