Are you putting yourself at risk for injury in your daily workout routine? Yes, you are, if you’re doing any of these four exercises, which are popular but have been known to cause even professional athletes serious injury. Behold, the worst exercises that you had no clue were bad for you.
1. Running on Concrete (With the Wrong Shoes)
Sure, there are some extraordinarily talented athletes who successfully pull off running on hard concrete without the proper shoes, but for everyone else, it’s punishment for your joints and back. Perhaps this is why sports shoe companies have gone to such great lengths to develop soles that absorb the shock. For anyone who has ankle, knee, leg or back problems, you might want to switch your running location.
Instead: Off-road It
Set out on a hiking trail instead. Its grasses and softer soils can make your run less jarring. You may find being on a trail is much more rewarding, as you tire less easy and enjoy the natural scenery.
2. Sit-ups and Crunches
Even though most of us think the traditional sit-up or crunch is the go-to abdominal workout, experts say otherwise. During a study conducted by Harvard Medical School, researchers found that traditional crunches actually cause stress and discomfort for the lower spine. And even if you succeed in relieving all the discomfort involved, you’re actually being shortchanged in the long run by isolating only a few muscle groups.
Abdominal toning and core strength comes from not just the stomach muscles, but those of the total abdominal area, back and hips. Sit-ups and crunches, for all the effort involved, don’t do enough.
Instead: Do Planks
Turns out, the solution is planks — a more effective abdominal exercise that also more comfortable and easier. Not only will you feel the burn, but you won’t feel back strain. You’ll also build your abdominal strength while strengthening your back muscles as well.
3. Lat Pull-downs
Doing a lat pull-down from behind the neck can have serious consequences if you continuously perform it overtime. Many people report pain in the shoulders as a result of lat pull-downs. It only takes one slip to ruin your shoulder’s rotator cuff, so consider this movement an actual risk. It puts your neck at risk for a slipped disk too. The problem lies with inability for some who have less flexibility in the shoulder to align the arms correctly to perform the motion.
Instead: Use a Bar for Pull-ups or Chin-ups
Instead of adding all the excess strain to your shoulder rotator cuffs, find a bar and do traditional pull-ups instead. Remember that if you have a hard time completing a full pull-up, don’t twist or shake. It’s much better to stick with less motion and do a few reps of chin-ups instead of struggling through pull-ups with poor form.
Gymnastics offers world of health benefits in the cardio, respiratory, muscular and psychological realms, but it’s certainly a quick way to beat up your body. Gymnasts and other performers who incorporate acrobatics quickly learn that at a certain point your back, knees, ankles, wrists, hips and tender joints can begin to suffer. (There’s a reason you rarely see a gymnast older than 30.)
If you’re at the point where you know you must make the switch away from gymnastics — because let’s face it, some injuries intensify as you age — it’s time to make the switch to something less strenuous on your muscles and joints.
Instead: Do Martial Arts or Dance
Even if your main exercise is no longer an intense gymnastics routine, you can incorporate the same skills and developed muscle groups into some martial arts or dance training. What makes these two alternatives so desirable to a gymnast is the ability to pick up an intense workout in a more efficient form. You can build core strength, endurance and vitality with both martial arts and dance, no matter what your age group.