Leon E. Popovitz, MD
Top-Rated Orthopedic Surgeon
Specializing in Arthroscopic Surgery of the Shoulder & Knee.
For appointments 212.759.4553

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Four Exercises That Can Do More Harm Than Good At The Gym

We all know exercise is good for you and, according to a new study, may actually help prevent cancer. However, some exercises can actually do more harm than good and result in muscle and joint injuries.  

Depending upon your age, fitness level and history of injuries, certain exercises should be avoided.  Especially for those who may sit in an office during the day and hit the gym after work, the muscles and joints are not utilized often enough during the day and can be susceptible to injuries during a strenuous workout.  The key to the more strenuous exercises is safely working up to them.

Below are four of the most common exercises that can result in chronic injury, if not executed properly.

1. Lower Back: Overhead Standing Lift


When executed properly, this exercise distributes weight evenly across the shoulders and spine and is great for toning the shoulders.  However, many people add too much weight to the bar which leads to the bar being placed slightly in front of the body.  When this happens, the weight distribution is altered and can place a tremendous amount of force on the spine.  

Another common mistake with this exercise is arching your back to help push the bar upward.  Although this may make it easier to lift more weight, overhead lifting while the back is arched creates substantial downward force on the spine, which can result in disc herniations.

2. Knee injuries: Weighted Leg Extensions


This exercise is an essential part of any “leg day” and, when executed properly, is a great way to strengthen the quadriceps muscles in the leg.  However, many people believe that the higher the weight and the higher the reps, the better the results will be.  Unfortunately, the opposite can be true as excess weight with high reps can lead to inflammation of the cartilage behind the kneecap.  This inflammation results in pain, known as patella-femoral pain, and can make it difficult to walk, go from sitting to standing or kneel down.

3. Hip Injuries: The Treadmill


Cardio is an integral part of any fitness routine and the staple favorite for cardio has always been the treadmill.  However for many people, jogging or running on a treadmill forces them to change their gait due to the treadmill being too narrow or the pace being to fast.  When the gait is altered, the IT band and hip flexors can become strained due to muscular imbalances in the knees and hips.  This excessive strain can cause inflammation of the joints in the hip as well as tendonitis or bursitis of the hip.

4. Elbow Injuries: Bicep Curls


For those who want sculpted arms, biceps curls are an exercise that can quickly help you achieve noticeable results.  However, weight is not always the key factor in achieving results and can actually cause injury to the elbow – which means you may have to stop doing curls altogether.   Trying to curl too much weight causes you to alter the normal range of motion in the elbow and “swing” the dumbbell instead of curling them.  This swinging motion, coupled with heavy weight, is a recipe for injury.

Another important thing to be aware of during biceps curls is the position of your wrists.  If the wrists are bent inward toward the body, the weight is distributed unevenly across the arm with most of the weight being placed on the tendons and flexors of the forearm.

Improper weight or form causes forearm and elbow tendons and flexors to become irritated or inflamed (known as tendinitis) and result in substantial pain and discomfort in the elbow.
NY Bone and Joint Specialists is a top rated, private Orthopedic and Sports Medicine practice in New York City and New Jersey. The Orthopedic Surgery, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Pain Management specialists routinely perform surgical and non-surgical treatments for patients across the United States and various other countries. Leon E. Popovitz, MD, and Michael Y. Mizhiritsky, MD, along with their team of best-in-class orthopedic physicians, are known for their exemplary orthopedic surgical skill and best-rated physical medicine and rehabilitation program. With this, along with their top in-office physical therapy and long-term sports rehabilitation processes, NY Bone and Joint Specialists work toward better overall quality of life for each and every patient. 

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