Gold's Gym_TreadmillsThe recent irradiation of the Utah valley with blazing daylight signals an abrupt change in season and dynamic.  This reappearance of sunshine, seagulls, and snow cones instead of snowdrifts can mean only one thing:  the return of swimsuit season.  People throughout the state hoping to fit into last year’s unitard or less will be flocking to gyms, fitness websites, and the odd DVD for help in losing their hibernation adding so that they can wear their swimwear of choice with pride.

In so doing, though, they should take heed that not all experts in physical fitness can be entirely trusted.  For instance, in recent years, The Biggest Loser guru Jillian Michaels came under fire by fitness professional Mark Cheng for teaching improper kettle bell techniques, then again in 2011 by James Fell for lack of certification, and then again for marketing potentially deadly diet pills.

“She’s an actress playing the role of fitness trainer on TV and in a line of popular DVDs,” says Fell in the article he wrote for the Los Angeles Times.  “[T]he collective jaws of professional trainers hit the floor after witnessing her regular displays of poor technique and unsafe training practices.”  “Every single thing she does is wrong,” is the assessment of Josh Hillis, personal trainer.  Professional kettlebell instructor Jude Howe found Jillian Michaels’ kettlebell videos so dangerous that he aired a YouTube video correcting hers.  The experts agree:  not everyone is an expert.

Thus, you will have to exercise your own discretion, to some extent, in deciding how to conduct your workout in a way that will not cause exercise injuries.  While your level/type of exertion will depend on a number of personal factors, here are some of the more common injury-causing workouts for starters:

1. Treadmills

Treadmills are commonly touted as a safe, simple avenue for burning calories.  After all, what could be simpler than running or walking?  However, without correct form, treadmill use can lead to Morton’s neuroma, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, knee impingement, and a number of other exercise injuries.  In addition, treadmills can be life-threatening to children or adults who lose their balance:  in 2009, 19,000 people received emergency care for broken bones, amputations, and  concussions sustained on a treadmill when they stumble into the console or their clothing catches on the belt.  As simple as they may seem, safe treadmill operation requires focus.

2. Hip Abductors/Adductors

Hip abductor/adductor machines have gained popularity for targeting those areas where cake most frequently migrates.  More recently, hip abductors are developing a reputation for contributing to hernia, sciatica, and general bone abuse.  Hip adductors do not seem to be quite as harmful; in fact, they are thought to be largely ineffective, targeting deep, unseen muscles.

3. Behind-the-Neck Lat Pulldowns

Lat pulldowns kill several birds with one stone; but birds are not the only things threatened by improper technique.  When the bar is pulled behind the neck, this puts the rotator cuff in an unstable position and stress on the ligaments surrounding it.  When the bar is brought behind the neck, not only does the force used put pressure on the shoulders and lower neck muscles; there is also a chance that the delicate processes of the upper spine may be damaged when it is brought down too quickly.

4. Pole Dancing

All cultural connotations aside, pole dancing is an efficient way to engage many muscle groups at once and to build stamina in multiple regions.  Unfortunately, it is also perilous to amateurs who are unaccustomed to coping with the risks involved.  A pole that has not been securely installed and maintained may come loose; or, even if there are no problems with the equipment, a sweaty pair of hands could easily lose their grip and go flying into space…and eventually, the ground.

5. Back/Leg Extensions

Seated back extensions are designed to work your lower back muscles, but usually end up straining your lumbar spine while you push with your legs and lean backward.  Similarly, exercises that involve a straightening of the knees, be they leg extensions or leg presses, tend to invite more strain to the knees than exertion of the target muscles.  A well-executed set of squats will work the same muscles without placing too much weight on the joints.

Whether at the gym or a physically demanding job, dangerous situations can always arise from the failure of those in charge to properly instruct or equip the individuals on their premises with the information, technique, or whatever else they need to avoid injury.  If you are suffering from a work or exercise injury that is keeping you in financial straits and/or out of commission, and that injury could have been prevented by a little foresight on the part of the proprietor or employer, exercise injury attorneys Christensen & Hymas can help you receive what you need to recover to the fullest and return to your life.  For a free consultation, call (801) 506-0800.

Image courtesy of Gary Paulson

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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