Are you doing crunches? You know what they are: they are a core/abdominal strengthening exercise in which you lie on the floor, bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor, place your hands on your chest or behind your head, and then you use your stomach muscles to lift your head and shoulders off the floor.
Stop doing them!
Or at the very least stop doing them to the extent that you lift your entire torso off the floor (as in the traditional sit up). Doing so can damage your spine.
If you really want to do a crunch, make sure you work only to lift your shoulders off the floor; raise your torso no higher.
As for three more typical exercises you probably should stop doing:
- Bench dips. These are where you place your arms behind you on a bed, sturdy chair or bench, and then lower your body/torso down. The exercise is used to strengthen/tone your triceps. But a bench dip can injure your shoulders because you’ve moved them into what is called an “internal rotation,” leaving you susceptible to abrasions of your bursae, deltoids, and rotator cuff muscles.
The bench dip can lead to abrasions of your deltoids and rotator cuff muscles.
- Upright rows are another no-no. An upright row is when you stand straight with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your body. You then raise the dumbbells up to just below shoulder height. An upright row can be dangerous because at the top of the movement, the movement can put a lot of stress in close proximity to the joint: your shoulder and upper arm move very high into possible impingement.
- Leg extensions. These are exercises performed on a leg extension machine in which you choose a weight to lift, sit down, extend your legs and hook your feet under a lifting pad, and then extend your leg – using your quadriceps – straight out. This exercise can be harmful because as your quads contract, they shorten through tension, possibly causing problems with your knee.
If you’ve injured your back, shoulder or knee doing one of the exercises described above, contact Dallas rehabilitation physician Dr. Michael Ellman at Ellman Rehab Associates. Give us a call at 972-682-3909 or send us an e-mail message.