Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Injury Prevention

Exercises to Avoid:
This list will probably anger a lot of purists.  That is OK.  Most of these exercises can be passably safe if done completely perfectly while being observed by three or more people to correct your form, but avoiding them is easier and safer. 
      1.  Bench Press:  Easy to do improperly, and when done improperly, will eventually ruin -shoulders, elbows, and wrists.  No exercise inspires more dumb risks than the bench press.  The shape of the barbell and bench lead people into unnatural body positions, and the exercise’s notoriety causes plate obsession.

-Alternatives:  Floor Press (if you must), pushups, dumbbell press.

      2.   Barbell Shoulder Press:  Even Gregg ‘The Man Whose Arms Exploded’ Valentino had this to say about barbell shoulder press:  “It’s a great way to kill your shoulders.”

-Alternatives:  Dumbbell shoulder press, bench reclined to 70 degrees.  Rotational dumbbell lifts.

      3.  Behind the Neck Pulldowns/Pullups:  More shoulder killers.  Your arms are not supposed to go back that far.

-Alternatives:  Pretty much every back exercise that doesn’t involve pulling something onto or behind your head.

      4.  Leg Press Machine:  Great for your ego, terrible for your lower back.  Inspires poor form, muscle imbalances, and lower spinal injuries.

-Alternatives:  Lunges, Bulgarian split squats.  Both of these hit stabilizers much more effectively

Again, many of these exercises can be done safely.  But most often they are not, and cause severe repetitive stress injuries at best, or catastrophic damage at worst.  I always cringe when I hear about someone trying for their 1 Rep Max in any of these exercises. 
Number and plate obsession come entirely from a need to dominate, rather than a desire to create.  Working out is not about battling iron, but about creating a new you, someone who takes shape with each movement.  In the words of Henry Rollins:

“It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn't want to come off the mat, it's the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn't teach you anything. That's the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against will always work against you.”


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