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Exercises to Avoid

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One of the things that I learned as I’ve gotten older is the fact that I have to be smart about how I workout.  I still workout with intensity, I still push myself every single day to improve my overall health and fitness.  However, as I’ve gotten older I have a greater focus on my technique and form.  In the old days it was about how much I can lift, these days it’s still about strength, but not to the point where I sacrifice my form for one more rep.

Last summer I suffered a lower back injury that didn’t put me completely out of commission, but did make me take a hard look at some of the moves I was performing.  After a month of physical therapy I learned there are certain exercises/stretches that should be avoided.  It was revealed to me that a majority of my lower back pain was the result of poor posture, but also performing certain exercises more than others.  For example, during my workouts I would spend 95% of my time bending forward and never balancing that out with back bends or similar exercises.  Basically, I was over-training one muscle while under-training another.

So, what was the solution?  The solution was to balance out the exercises, especially my warm-up and cool down stretches so that I was stretching each muscle in multiple directions.  After only a few weeks of “proper” stretching, in multiple directions, my back pain was gone and I had a greater appreciation for my overall health. 

I wanted to post this article from because it suggests exercises that should be avoided.  Many of these were ones that I was using that  resulted in my lower back pain.  


You go to the gym to feel good, but some exercises may make you feel worse for wear. We asked trainers, exercise physiologists, and physical therapists for the most cringe-worthy moves they commonly see at the gym

By Jessica Cassity fitbie

1.) Plow Pose

6 Dangerous Exercises You Should Never Do // plow pose dangerous exercises you should never do © Thinkstock
Image: Thinkstock

Yoga is supposed to be soothing for mind and body, but plow pose—an inversion exercise that ends a lot of yoga classes—can spell serious trouble for your neck. “In this move you lie on your back then flip your legs over your head until your feet touch the ground behind you,” explains Jennifer Howe, MPT, CMPT, a teaching associate at University of Washington’s physical therapy department. “But the weight of your legs pressing down overhead causes significant flexion and compression forces through your neck.” Not ever plow pose leads to neck pain—a good instructor will teach you to transfer the pressure to your shoulders—but because this pose is often poorly explained you’re better off skipping it and resting in happy baby or a forward fold instead. 

2.) Straight-Leg Lifts

People do this move to tone the abs, but it’s actually one of the worst exercises for the lower back, according to Mike Bracko, EdD, CSCS, an exercise physiologist and fitness educator in Calgary, Alberta.  In the move, a person lies face up, lifting the legs up over the hips then lowering them back down. “When the legs are lifted, one of the prime movers is a muscle that attaches to the lumbar spine vertebrae,” says Bracko. “When this muscle is contracted, it pulls the lower back into hyperextension and squeezes the discs which can put a person at risk for a herniated disc.” Ouch! A better way to target the lower abs: reverse crunches.

3.) Deep Squats

Some trainers and fitness instructors encourage squats that bring the butt almost to the heels, claiming that going lower will build more muscle. But this move will also put extra pressure on your knees, says Tamilee Webb, star of the Classic Buns of Steel DVD collection. To stay safe, skip these deep drops and stick with a regular squat. “When doing a squat, the hips should not drop below the knees, the knees should not move forward past the feet, and the back should remain in a straight alignment,” says Webb. If traditional squats still hurt your knees, try squatting with your back against a wall, keeping your feet about two feet in front of your hips so they’re under your knees.

4.) The Power Clean

The power clean is a barbell exercise that requires you to pull the bar from floor and “catch” it at your shoulders in a display of athletic power. “If you’re an athlete, plan on competing in Olympic lifting competition, and have a competent coach, go for it,” says Jim Kielbaso, MS, CSCS, director of Total Performance Training Centers in Wixom and Rochester Hills, MI, and author of Ultimate Speed & Agility and World’s Hardest Exercises. “If you just want to be in great shape there’s no reason to do this exercise.” Because a power clean is so technical, it’s extremely easy to do it incorrectly, which can lead to wrist, elbow, shoulder, and lower back injuries. To get a similar burn without the risk (or need for a coach), add plyometric drills, kettlebell swings, medicine ball throws, or burpees to your training program, suggests Kielbaso. 

5.) Knee Extension Machine

Every fitness center has at least one of these machines—you sit in a chair with the fronts of your ankles pressed against a weighted bar then extend the legs straight in front of you. But just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. “This exercise makes your knees the victim of physics,” says Howe. “Pressing the weighted bar at your ankle creates a lot of torque at your patello-femoral joint, where your knee cap meets the long bone of your upper leg.” Using a light weight may not cause as much of a problem, but to keep your knees truly pain free you’d be better off strengthening the quads in other ways, like stair climbing. 

6.) Full Sit-ups

There’s a reason sit-ups went out of style in most mainstream workouts: they’re actually hard on the back. “Although situps aren’t necessarily ‘dangerous’ for everyone, they can contribute to an increased risk of a herniated disc,” says Bracko. When a person rounds their spine forward in a situp, the vertebra squeeze the discs and puts pressure on the fluid inside them. This is one of the most common risk factors for disc injury, says Bracko. What’s more: Situps aren’t functional fitness. The average person will never need this kind of movement strength, says Bracko, so you’re better off doing a half-crunch—just lifting the shoulder blades off the ground—or holding plank pose.

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