Contraindicated Exercises: Risk VS. Benefit of Certain Exercises

As sciences go, exercise science is relatively young on the family tree.  That being said there is always new and exciting information coming out in the world of exercise science.  Sixty years ago when physicists were splitting atoms and making nuclear bombs, the few exercise professionals that did exist, were making people do some pretty crazy exercises that you would never see in a program designed by today’s trainers. Even today there is always new information coming out stating that that certain exercises are not good for you, and that you should avoid them to avoid injury.

The whole idea behind contraindicated exercises is the risk to benefit ratio.  How much risk is involved in a particular exercise vs. how much benefit you are going to get out of that exercise.  For many of those higher risk exercises that place undue stress on a joint, tendon, ligament, or muscle there are alternate exercises that are just as, if not more effective, but involve a lot less risk and a lot less potential for injury.

A good example is behind the neck pull-downs. Gym goers have being doing this exercise for a long time but recent evidence suggests that it puts the shoulder in an unstable position which could lead to injury. There is the potential to hit you C7 vertebrae while doing the movement and damage it.  As well the exercise is not functional; you don’t mimic that exercise in everyday life. If you do behind the neck pull-downs the exercise are you going to injure yourself? Probably not right away, but there is potential. Could it lead to shoulder problems down the road? There is the potential for a chronic shoulder injury down the road.  Are there other exercises out there that work the same muscles with less risk of injuring yourself? Yes there are.

There are many exercises out there that do have the potential to cause injury, either acute or chronic. If you are unsure about some of the exercises in your current program seek the advice of one of YMCA’s trained staff.