Let’s face it, there are some exercises that just don’t feel good when we do them. No matter our fitness level. Here are three that I think have little redeeming worth for most exercisers and moreover, can be downright dangerous.
I’ve mentioned this in a previous article. This is the exercise in which you squat down, place your hands on the floor next to your feet and immediately thrust your legs behind you into (ideally) a plank position. You then jump your feet back between your hands and then stand up and jump. And then you repeat. Many times. Quickly.
Created by Royal H. Burpee in the 1930s as a way to test the agility, strength and coordination of prospective soldiers, this exercise quickly gained in popularity in boot camps everywhere. By this I refer to the Paris Island kind of boot camp, not the let’s-meet-for-coffee-after-class kind!
The Burpee is dangerous for your knees and your back as most people sink into both in an attempt to repeat these movements quickly. It is VERY difficult to do it without injuring yourself.
Seated Thigh Abductor and Adductor
Admittedly, I logged plenty of time on this machine after it was installed in the brand new weight room at college! It didn’t help much and it took me years, and a Pilates certification, to understand why. Muscles of the inner thighs are supposed to be used to keep the knees in alignment when we walk, run, squat or use the stairs. While many women could stand to strengthen this area, rarely do we use our inner thigh muscles when we are seated, like in the exercise. Working them functionally makes more sense and is much more effective. So a better exercise to target these important muscles is a sideways lunge or crossover lunge (watch your alignment!) or using leg springs at a Pilates studio.
Behind the Neck Lat Pulldown
This exercise is actually quite effective for working out the back. So what’s the problem? They’re extremely bad for the shoulders! According to Pete McCall, a San Diego - based exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise, “Most people’s shoulders aren’t flexible enough to keep their spine straight while performing the exercise, and the odds of hurting your shoulder or tearing your rotator cuff are high.” One alternative is to do the pull down in front of your body. Or try pull-ups instead. Both can make for some great back muscles!
No matter the exercise, you must be careful to keep your alignment and to never exercise through pain. Your body knows when it’s doing something that isn’t good for it; listen to your instinct (sometimes instead of the instructor!) and you may avoid unnecessary injuries!
~ Stacy Geant Hughes, Certified Pilates Instructor, Certified Pink Ribbon Program specializing in post breast cancer surgery rehabilitation, Owner of Core Value Pilates, LLC in Ridgewood, NJ