Are there any “bad” exercises that I should not do at the gym?

This is a question that I receive from my majority of patients at the discharge time, says Gabriel Enescu, director of rehabilitation at Lodi Excel Physical Therapy. The patients feel great and are ready for a new life style. These is my recommendation. Stay away from the following types of exercises and machines:

 Smith Machine- I don’t think that there is a worse thing you can find in a gym, says Gabriel. “It is intended to help you squat safely, but it does just the opposite”. It doesn't let the bar path move, as it should in an actual squat. You find yourself into an unstable and unsafe position, improperly putting weight on your spine and hips. This piece of equipment only allows movement in a fixed plane of motion and long term use will hurt your spine. Instead, try squats. Simple squats will help anyone achieve better results. Using a barbell sitting on your traps, not your spine, and with your feet a little wider than hip width with your toes pointed just slightly out lower yourself return to a standing position. Make sure your knees and toes are pointing the same direction the entire time, and try and get your hip crease below your knees.

Elliptical Machine- One of the most popular in the seniors’ exercise program. You might think it's low impact, but it's putting your body in strange positions. The elliptical takes your body through an unnatural range of motion movements. Instead, see if your gym has a rowing machine.  In my opinion that is the best cardio equipment. The rowing machine not only works almost every muscle in your body, but it also teaches you proper pulling mechanics. Your physical shape will determine the number of repetitions and weight.

Leg Press Machine- Unless you are rehabilitating a knee and/or ankle injury, try not to do isolation exercises. During the leg press exercise, there is an unnecessary strain on the lumbar spine and there is no proper muscle recruitment in the legs. This can lead to injuries of the ankles, knees, and back. Instead, you can do …. Squats. Yes, we go back to the basics and as a simple rule, squatting three times a week, and you'll find yourself getting strong extremely quick

Crunches- They represent unnecessary stress on the lumbar area and are highly ineffective at working the abdominal muscles. You must perform tens of them daily to see some results. Instead, you can perform a Hollow Body Hold, and you if were one of our former patients, you know how much we recommend this exercise. Lying on your back, push it against the ground, raise your legs and shoulders off the ground a few inches, effectively creating a slight crescent moon shape with your body. Hold this position for one minute if you can, but you can start with 20 seconds if you are not in your best shape.

But what about biceps curls? While they can help you gain an increased size in the biceps, you are also isolating one specific muscle group and not letting all the surrounding muscles do ad their contribution. The body acts as a unit and never in isolation, so we need to exercise in that way. The best replacement…Chin Ups. Yes, it feels like it’s gym class again. You'll get a better bicep pump by performing sets of strict chin-ups, and you'll also be strengthening your upper back muscles on the same time.

Triceps Kickbacks, an exercise where you extend your elbow with a dumbbell, is a longtime gym staple. Kickbacks put your shoulder in a bad biomechanical position to move effectively, and also don't allow you to load the movement with weight.  This movement generally won't yield the results you're looking for. But you can do … Pushups. This is one of the best exercises using your body weight. Externally rotate your elbow and lower your chest to the ground, maintaining a solid plank the whole time. Allow your chest to touch the ground, and then press back to the top again. This is the most effective at targeting your triceps.

These is just advice for an active person who is already involved in an exercise program. If you have any questions please visit our site, www. physicaltherapylodi.com and don’t forget: “Yes, You Can!