Below are five exercises that keep your physical therapist in business:
1. Head Stands
Yes, you look cool in your outfit, and yes, you are getting improved blood flow to your head.
The vertebral segments of your neck, however, are not meant to bear weight like this.
The potential risk for neck injury is high, even if you are able to partially decrease the weight on your head by pressing through your arms.
2. Hand Stand Push-Ups
In the last year I have treated two athletes who have fallen directly on their heads while trying to perform this exercise.
One momentary lapse of shoulder power can cause buckling and a nasty impact to the head or neck.
One of these athletes had intense pain shooting down his arm for three months after his incident.
The “coolness” factor is high, but the same muscles can be worked by performing a seated overhead press. Why take the risk?
3. Heavy Dead Lifts
I am not opposed to doing this motion if the weight is light and the form is impeccable (no flexing of the lower back is allowed).
Otherwise, do not ever let anyone convince you that a heavy dead lift is good for you.
Published research shows that there is a huge “shearing” effect on the lumbar vertebrae with this exercise. Many a disc herniation has been precipitated by this exercise.
4. One-Armed Pull-Ups
Pull-ups should be performed symmetrically, with both arms! With a one-armed pull-up, too much force is placed on the relatively smaller muscles of the forearm. The wrist flexors and the brachioradialis muscles will often develop tendonitis from the huge loads placed on them. The shoulder is also forced into an unnatural forward position, causing disproportionate strain on the rotator cuff.
5. Knee Extension Machine
Believe it or not, most physical therapists are not wild about their patients using this machine. The reasoning behind this centers on the fact that straightening of the knee in this fashion (with the knee not fixed on the floor) is not a “functional” motion.
Patients who have patellar tracking issues largely do not tolerate this exercise well. Squatting motions or a “closed kinetic chain” leg press tend to have better results.