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Exercises That Can Cause More Harm Than Good


August 29, 2013

Physical therapist Matt Mikesh with Somers Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine Group offers tips about exercises that can cause more harm than good.

Exercising is a crucial factor in maintaining a healthy body and mind. This is a commonly known fact and 76% of American adults report that they engage in regular physical activity. Yet according to physical therapist specialist Matt Mikesh with Somers Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine Group, practicing certain exercises can cause more harm to the body than good. “I see many patients who come in because they have injured themselves working out,” says Mikesh. How can we remain physically active, exercise regularly and at the same time protect ourselves from exercise injury? Mikesh offers the following tips to help us prevent exercise related injury and suggests certain exercises to avoid.

Warm up before rigorous exercise. “A common mistake is to begin the exercise routine with extremely difficult exercises,” says Mikesh. It is important to warm up the body before engaging in rigorous activity. Saving your most difficult exercises for the end of the routine could prevent a trip to the doctor.

Deep Squats. While deep squats can help develop strength and power in the legs, particularly the quads, they place far too much strain on the knees.

Lat Pull-downs. This is a popular exercise in gyms, but it puts the neck in an awkward position and can also cause strain to the shoulder. Worse yet is that the risks with lat pull-downs are multiplied if the individual uses too much weight.

Military Press. The military press is not as troublesome as the lat pull-downs, but this “classic” gym exercise can also be destructive to the shoulders. Lifting heavy weights overhead puts pressure on the rotator cuff and can lead to acute tears or gradual fraying and tearing of these tendons.

Abdominal/Back Exercises. Some abdominal and back exercises require excessive flexion or extension of the lumbar spine. These exercises require the performer to contort into end range positions of extreme flexion or extension and can be very damaging and potentially injure intervertebral discs. Herniated discs are very common and painful. Avoid these exercises and stick to core exercises which are done with the spine in a more neutral position.

Jogging is a frequent cause of exercise injury. Though jogging is a very efficient form of cardio, it is not an exercise for everyone. The constant pounding on the feet, ankles, knees, hips and back can cause breakdowns at any of these locations. For many people, it is better to engage in a less impactful form of cardio. Biking, swimming and using an elliptical machine are all great alternatives.

These are just several examples of exercises that can lead to a doctor visit. All exercises can potentially cause injury, but these exercises are too risky for the physical rewards they offer. Always use proper technique, warm-up thoroughly and progress resistance gradually to avoid injury and get healthy.

Matt Mikesh, PT has 13 years of experience as a physical therapist and manages the physical therapy department at Somers Orthopaedics in Newburgh. Matt has specialized training in the treatment of orthopaedic and sports-related conditions.
Somers Orthopaedic Surgery &Sports Medicine Group, PLLC, founded in 1988, is one of the most comprehensive and specialized practices in the region.

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