The TEN Worst Exercises

We tend to train and teach as we were taught. As a result many of the exercise routines we do are harmful to our bodies and those of our students. Sometimes we are caught up in nostalgia or may have such loyalty to former instructors that we refuse to believe that the exercises they taught us do more harm than good. Training and body movement research has identified many problems with the old standby routines and have found better and improved ways over yesterday's workout routine.

Following are the ten most dangerous exercises that you can do. Decide what risks you are or aren't willing to take and change your routine accordingly .

Toe Touches

Purpose

  • Stretch the hamstrings.

How its done

  • The practitioner stands straight
  • Then bends forward at the waist
  • Attempts to touch toes or place hands on floor.

The problem

  • One of the most common and dangerous exercises.
  • Puts undue stress on the lower back.
  • Puts tremendous strain on the spinal discs.
  • Strains ligaments without any support from the back muscles.
  • May strain or tear hamstring or back extensor muscles.
  • Often tightens muscles further.


The alternatives

  • Bent leg stretch on your back.
  • Straight leg stretch on your back.
  • Seated hamstring stretch.

The Plow

Purpose

  • Stretch upper and lower back and neck.

How its done

  • One of the most dangerous exercises.
  • The practitioner lies on his back;
  • Flips his legs up and over until the feet are resting on the floor above the head.

The problem

  • Places extreme weight on the ligaments and discs throughout the spinal column.
  • Increases the risk of a stroke by inhibiting the circulation of blood to the spinal column or brain.
  • Promotes hump back or pyphosis.
  • Easy to lose balance and injure neck or back.
  • Compresses cervical discs, vertebrae and nerves.
  • Has never been proven beneficial in any way.

The alternatives

  • Safe lower back stretches.
  • Safe head and neck stretches.
  • Safe head and neck strength building exercises.

Hurdler's Stretch

Purpose

  • Stretch hamstring

How its done

  • The practitioner sits on the floor
  • Extends one leg in front.
  • Bends the other leg back underneath so that the foot is near the buttocks.

The problem

  • Knee is placed in an un-natural position.
  • Puts an abnormal stress load on the knee joint.
  • Strains the groin.
  • Stretches the sciatic nerve, causing back pain.
  • Creates laxity of the medial ligament of the bent knee.
  • Creates knee instability
  • Puts stress on the cartilage of the bent knee.

The alternatives

  • Two knees to chest while on back.
  • Gentle body twisting while standing.
  • Lateral straddle stretch.

Deep Knee Bends, Burpees, Tuck Jumps

Purpose

  • To develop the quadriceps.
  • To develop muscular endurance of legs.

How its done

  • The participant stands.
  • Bends knees until buttocks is close to calves.

The problem

  • Often done in a ballistic manner.
  • knees bent more than 90 degrees.
  • Hyper extends lateral cartilage of the knee.
  • Irritates synovial membrane.

The alternatives

  • Knee bends should be performed slowly.
  • Bend only to the point at which your thighs are at a right angle to your calves (90 degrees).
  • Wall seats.
  • Quarter squats.
  • Quadricep stretch while lying on floor.

Knee Stretch

Purpose

  • To develop the abdominal muscles.
  • To strengthen quadriceps.
  • To stretch the knee.

How its done

  • The practioner kneels on the floor sitting on his feet.
  • The upper body is bent backwards until the shoulders or head is on the ground.

The problem

  • Hyper extends the knees.
  • Overstresses the abdominals.
  • Tears the knee cartilages.
  • Overstretches the medial collateral ligament.
  • Lead to dislocated knees and loose knee ligaments.
  • Easy to loose balance causing other injuries.
  • This exercise is extremely dangerous to the knees. Avoid it.

The alternatives

  • For abdominal development use crunches.
  • For quadriceps stretch, lay on side and stretch quadriceps of leg on top using hand.
  • For the knee do standing knee lifts.

Sit-ups

Purpose

  • To develop the abdominal muscles.

How its done

  • The practioner lies with legs flat on the floor.
  • Hands are locked behind the neck or held straight above the head.
  • The upper body is brought upright.

The problem

  • Strains the low back.
  • Causes lumbar lordosis.
  • Compresses lower discs and vertebra.
  • Puts undue pressure on cervical spine.
  • Strengthens hip flexors not abdominals.

The alternatives

  • Bent knee sit-up or crunches
  • Bend the knees.
  • Raise head and shoulders until shoulder blades don't touch the floor.
  • Hold bent position for 5 seconds and lower body to floor.
  • Hands should be crossed at the shoulders.

Ballet Stretch

Purpose

  • To stretch the hamstrings.

How its done

  • The leg is placed on a ballet bar or other high object such as a table.
  • The body is bent forward until the toes are touched.

The problem

  • Overstretches the ligaments, discs, and muscles of the lower back, the sciatic nerve and the back of the knee.
  • Causes sciatica and pyriformis syndrome.
  • Tears hip ligaments.
  • Creates wear and tear of the hip joint.

The alternatives

  • Lay on back.
  • Bend knees.
  • Bring one leg up and stretch it (may be bent or straight). or
  • Sit on floor.
  • Bring one foot to groin.
  • Stretch out other leg.
  • Lean gently forward, supporting your upper body.

Double Leg Raises, scissors kicks and cycling

Purpose

  • Build abdominals

How its done

  • The practitioner lays on his back with legs straight out.
  • The legs are raised until the feet are some distance off the floor

The problem

  • The back isn't kept completely flat against the ground the lift.
  • A variety of back disorders can occur.
  • Disc injury can result.
  • Same problems as sit-ups can occur.
  • Does not strengthen abdominals.

The alternatives

  • Leg curls.
  • Straight or bent knee leg raises.
  • High knee marching.
  • Crunches.

Lotus Stretch

Purpose

  • To build flexibility in legs, hips and feet.

How its done

  • The practitioner sits on the floor.
  • Both legs are crossed so that both feet rest on top of the legs.

The problem

  • Twists knees and ankles into unnatural position.
  • Strains the back muscles.
  • Creates tension on the sciatic nerve.

The alternatives

  • Avoid.
  • Do exercises that stretch calf, hamstrings, groin, and quadriceps.
  • Do foot rotations.

Dead Lift

Purpose

  • To build back and leg muscles.

How its done

  • The basic form is to stand on a bench, then lift a barbell off the ground, keeping the legs straight.

The problem

  • The posterior longitudinal ligament are stretched severely.
  • Sciatic nerve is injured.
  • Ruptured discs occur often.

The alternatives

  • Place one foot ahead of object.
  • Crunch down by bending knees (nor more than 90 degrees)
  • Grab object and hold close to body.
  • Straighten up.
  • Keep abdominals tight.
  • Keep back straight and over the hips.
  • Avoid any twisting.

What's Worth the Risk?

  • These are the ten worst exercises that you can do in your martial arts training.  Other exercises that are almost as dangerous include:
    • Head rotations where head is taken to the rear.
    • Ballet or gymnastic splits (very common for kicking).
    • Standing or seated side bends.
    • All ballistic exercises.
    • Windmills (standing straight or bent over touching toes)
    • Sit-ups with hands behind the neck, or feet held, or starting from down position
    • Donkey kicks
    • Sagging push-ups
    • Cobra
    • Back bends
    • Jumping jacks
    • Burpees

Health, flexibility, and mobility are often taken for granted.

We assume that we will always be able to continue doing the things we already do as we get older. The reality is that as we grow from childhood through puberty, to young adulthood, to middle age and then into the golden years our bodies change. By properly exercising as we go through these stages we can live a rich and rewarding life. If there's a chance of diminishing the quality of even one area of our life through improper exercising, is it worth the risk?

How to Stretch

  • Exercise regularly at least 3 times a week for 20 minutes.
  • Wear proper exercise clothing and footwear.
  • Exercise in a proper environment.
  • Before exercising, do warm ups and stretching.
  • Start slow and gradually increase workout.
  • Warm up properly by fast walking.
  • Static stretch all major muscle groups first.
  • Don't do buddy stretching.
  • Don't do ballistic stretching.
  • Protect your spine and lower back.
  • Start slow and gradually increase intensity of workout.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Cool down and stretch after you exercise.

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