The 5 Most Dangerous Exercises to Avoid The Quest for Longevity
The 5 Most Dangerous Exercises to Avoid
A guest post by Dr Tom Potisk
There certainly are exercises and physical activities that can be harmful. For over 25 years I practised as a Doctor of Chiropractic and observed that many spinal structural misalignments were caused by harmful exercise.
With regard to the fun, regular, physical activities that are an essential part of achieving well-being, all have some level of risk, but when done properly, gently, and with good equipment, the risks are minimal. In most cases, the benefits outweigh the hazards. For example, bicycling requires good brakes, adequately inflated tires, bright clothing, and an awareness of your surroundings (cars, pedestrians, curbs, signs, and so on). And don’t forget the helmet. Our current culture is producing wonderful off-road bike trails in most communities; seek those out. Most are even paved. There is also an increasing number of bike-only lanes on many city streets. Don’t let the rare accidents featured in the media discourage you from bike riding. Activities like skiing, rollerblading, or any of the faster moving
sports carry slightly higher risks, but still, when done properly (i.e., wearing a helmet and protective pads on your knees, elbows, and wrists for rollerblading), the risks are not high enough to justify avoidance. In most cases, unless you’re a professional athlete, you’re not in a race; so move slowly, gently, leisurely, and rhythmically. The benefits come from the consistency of doing these activities, not from the intensity. Striving for intensity raises the risks. Jogging is an activity that can have significant risk. The repetitive jarring to one’s frame (feet, ankles, knees, and spine) is damaging to many who jog. The negative effects are slow, gradual, and accumulative. The benefits to the cardiovascular system are superior, but other, less traumatic and intense activities are adequate. If a person is determined to jog or run regularly, I advise that some preventative measures be taken. I’d suggest thorough stretching beforehand, quality running shoes with custom-made orthotics (supportive inserts), and supplemental nutrition for joint support. These precautions will minimize the traumatic effects.
Many people find it surprising that I say yoga routines can be harmful. In my practice, I’ve observed many yoga-related injuries, most due to over-aggressive instructors. These observations are partly responsible for my devising the simpler stretching routine outlined in my book. But overall, yoga stretches are good.
There are several specific, “therapeutic”-type exercises that I’ve observed consistently hurting people. The military type sit-up for example, done for abdominal strengthening, traumatizes the lower back and neck. These are commonly performed lying on the back, hands behind head, knees bent or legs straight, the sit-up performed by raising the upper torso. I believe this exercise should be avoided. There are better, safer, equally effective movements.
My favourite is to assume the same position, but to keep the head back on the floor, raise the legs so the heels are approximately an inch off the floor and then glide the heels toward the buttocks as the legs are bending, then extend the legs straight. This manoeuvre strengthens both the upper and lower abdominals without traumatizing the neck or lower back. The arms can be either flat to the sides or behind the head, with the head kept back. Repeat the movement until a slight discomfort or fatigue is noticed in the abdominal area. Rest for about a minute, then repeat again. Usually three sets are adequate.
Extension exercise against resistance has an unreasonably high risk. These are usually done sitting with a pad behind the upper back. A person leans back against resistance and repeats the movement. Many people do this hoping to strengthen their backs. I’ve seen this contribute to a lot of back injuries. If you must do this exercise, then keep the resistance to a minimum. Back rotation exercises against resistance are best avoided. These are also done sitting with the hands/arms on handles or arms/hands in a praying position and pads next to the forearms.
The person then rotates (turns) the upper torso against resistance both right and left. Many people do this maneuver hoping to tighten their love handles. Unfortunately, the spine and discs don’t like that movement when under resistance.
Neck rolling is best avoided all together. This is done mistakenly in hopes of stretching or loosening the neck joints and muscles. A person essentially draws a circle with the nose while moving the neck, combining all the lanes of motion the neck can make. Due to the complex nature of the many joints in the neck, this motion causes an unnatural grinding, ultimately producing premature wearing of the joint surfaces. A preferred alternative for stretching the neck is to separate each motion, forward, backward, right turning, right tilting, left turning, and left tilting, doing each deliberately.
-an excerpt from the new book Whole Health Healing – The Budget Friendly Natural Wellness Bible for All Ages
Dr Potisk offers a free report on his web site called How to Check Yourself and Your Family for Spinal Structural misalignments.
Neck pain – All Information (umm.edu)
Yoga… For Your Face? (lifescript.com)
Why You Need Strong Core Muscles (healthmad.com)
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