Well hello there, and welcome back to the Lumira blog-o-sphere!
With January 2020 upon us, we are entering the time of New Year’s Resolutions! Some of us hope to change our dietary intake, while others are engaging in new and exciting exercise routines. Since many are planning the latter, I thought I’d share some of the more common practices that actually work against us, and should be avoided in any workout:
1. Sit-Ups and/or Crunches
As many of you may know, I am not a proponent of sit-ups, crunches, or anything resembling either. You may wish to read my article Are Sit-Ups and Crunches Safe? for a detailed explanation as to why; but generally it is because their supposed benefits do not outweigh their risks.
Sit-ups, crunches, and similar exercises put a lot of excessive strain on the muscles and joints of the low back and pelvic floor. There is also an increased risk of compression and/or shear injuries to the vertebra of the lumbar spine. I also dislike these exercises because they tend to strain the hip flexor muscles, disrupt the body’s internal pressure system, and create an unfavourable rounding posture in the back.
Exercises that resemble sit-ups and crunches include Hundreds in Pilates, Boat Pose in Yoga, supine leg lifts or raises, Dead Bug, etc. When in doubt, my advice is to simply avoid any exercise that resembles the above. Instead, try replacing them with forward or side planks, supine body twists, seated single-arm rows, or a Bird Dog routine.
2. Tricep Dips
Tricep dips are very dangerous for the shoulder joint capsule. If you think about the position you are in when performing a dip, there is a lot of excessive strain and stretch being placed on the front of the capsule and surrounding muscle tendons. This excessive strain makes a vulnerable body part that much more susceptible to moderate or severe injury, as well as, possible soft-tissue tearing.
Instead, try replacing these exercises with push-ups, planks, or free-weight exercises while the shoulder joint stays in a more neutral posture and alignment. Be sure to always listen to your body and remember that pain does not equal gain!
3. Breath-Holding/Valsalva Maneuver
Unless you are an Olympian performing a dead-lift, I do not recommend a regular practice of breath-holding. We often hold our breath as an attempt to remain stable at our core and/or to push through discomfort during a difficult workout. This must be avoided! Breath is our power and once the breath stops, so does our ability to remain strong during a challenging exercise.
As a result of breath-holding, many people have fainted during workouts and sustained preventable musculoskeletal injuries. Ceasing the natural flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide can cause a build-up of byproducts in the body’s myofascial tissues and blood stream. This can lead to increased muscle pain, strain, and micro-tearing. Instead, keep your airflow going and breathe out with effort. This will properly engage the deep core so that your body can remain stable and strong.
4. Pelvic Tucking During a Squat
I often see people performing squats incorrectly. One bad habit: sitting down into a squat and compensating for decreased strength and balance with a posterior tucking of the pelvis. I call this the Butt Wink. Even though it is sometimes taught by personal trainers, a butt wink is never good. It means we are not using the deep core to perform the squat properly.
During exercise, our body’s function best when we align the deep core. It is basically a highly coordinated team of muscles (one of which is the pelvic floor) that provides the foundation for the rest of our body’s work. If we tuck our pelvises into a butt wink, we interrupt deep core coordination and communication, which can lead to injury and dysfunction.
Instead, try not sinking so far into the squat; and gradually build-up to it. You can also imagine as though you are lifting your tailbone to the ceiling or sitting into a really short chair as you squat. Be sure to keep your knees from extending forward beyond the toes and avoid collapsing into the back and hips.
One Final Word
Be sure to enjoy your exercise programs. Any New Year’s Resolution is sustainable if it is something you like to do rather than something you have to do. Always remember that we at Lumira are here to support you in any way we can. So, do not hesitate to give us a shout if you have questions or concerns about your health needs. We are happy to help!
Best of luck my friends… Until next time!!
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