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Exercise is a wonderful thing, but there’s a fine line between moves that enhance the physical, and ones that can harm it. For the vast majority of us who may not have access to a personal trainer to help keep our form and fitness practices in check, the responsibility falls squarely on the individual to guard her own physical well being. Whether you subscribe  – or aspire to take on – a workout regimen powered by a DVD, Exercise TV, or your gym, there are a number of moves you should avoid, such as:

 

Bouncing While Stretching:

Some may be surprised to see this make the list since it’s a practice that remains widely used. Ballistic stretching, technically speaking, is believed by some to increase muscle flexibility and prevent injury. Studies have proven this theory to be wrong, and dangerous. Bouncing while stretching can create small tears in the muscle tissue, and in turn, pain experienced as muscle soreness or tenderness. Rather than using jerky movements, try slow, sustained stretches to be held for 10-20 seconds that get deeper with each repetition.

 

Standing Toe Touches:

This move that’s designed to stretch out the hamstrings and lower back muscles has been suggested by numerous agencies to be avoided all together. With legs straightened, folding downward to touch your toes could actually overstretch the areas it’s meant to target and even add undue stress to the vertebrae. Adding the twisting movement into the mix can wreak havoc on your joints and possibly rupture a disk in your lower back. Better Health Channel suggests the following 2 alternatives:

  • An alternative hamstring stretch involves lying on your back with both knees bent. Straighten one leg by lifting it towards the ceiling, keeping the knee slightly bent. Support the straight leg by clasping both hands behind the knee. Hold. Repeat for the other leg. You should feel the stretch on the back thigh of the straight leg.
  • An alternative lower back stretch involves sitting cross-legged on the floor. Slowly lean forward, keeping your back straight, reaching your arms out to the floor. Hold.

Additionally, locking the knees is sure-fire way to create long-term damage, so remember to always micro bend, an ever-so slight bend in your knees to avoid injury.

 

Sit-Ups:

Not all sit-ups are created and carried out equally. Dig two forms that should be avoided at all costs. 1) Sit-ups where your legs straightened along the floor or 2) with another person holding your feet to the ground, or “anchoring.” Typically thought of as an ab-blasting exercise, the above-mentioned efforts do less for the tummy muscles and more by way of straining the lower back and work the muscles of the hips and thighs. Curls are an effective alternative. You can perform this by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With arms folded across your chest, or straight on either side of the body, curl your body upwards to mid back, and come down. Repetitions can vary in speed but remember to pull that belly in towards your spine.

 

Double Leg Lifts or Lowers:

Fitness trainers always warn about the harm this can do to the lower back and for good reason. When lying on your back, raising both legs at once places a huge strain on the lower back. The same goes for lowering legs in that position, as well as raising your legs while lying on the stomach. Don’t be discouraged, because a simple variation can allow you to blast those abs and save your back in the process. Instead of lifting both legs at once, try just one at a time – keeping your hips stable and the other leg bent with your foot on the ground.

 

Deep/Full Squats:

Squats are fantastic for toning the thighs and booty, but one false move can leave you in a lot of discomfort. In this case, deep bends where your hips drop below the knee level can have a harmful impact on the ligaments and cartilage of the knees. To get the most out of this form of fitness, send your hips back, not too far down and check to make sure knees are directly over the feet and your thighs are parallel to the floor.

 

It’s Important to Add That…

~When performing lunges, the front knee should never extend beyond your big toe.

~If at any point you feel discomfort or pain while exercising, you should modify or stop altogether.

~Stay within your fitness level. No matter how urgent it is for you to get fit. If it’s been a while since you’ve trained, slowly work your way up to advanced levels.

~It’s not about quantity, but quality. Proper form is everything.

~Warm ups and cool downs are vital. Stretching the muscles you intend to develop prevent injury.

~While working out, stay hydrated: Drink water.

 

Hey Clutchettes, got any additional suggestions to add to the mix? Speak on it:)

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  • SAA

    thanks Sky!

  • Nne

    “In this case, deep bends where your hips drop below the knee level can have a harmful impact on the ligaments and cartilage of the knees.”
    Didn’t know that. In fact, I remember some trainer encouraging me to bend as low as possible in order to improve my flexibility. Well, I’m not trying to get THAT flexible (to the point of stretching out ligaments – so thanks for the tips!

  • Candy1

    I cannot get the hang of PROPER squats. Maybe I should just leave them alone.

    • Jazzabelle

      Practice makes perfect. I’d start off with just bodyweight squats to get the form down. Plus, there’s different stances depending on which body part you want to focus on more; the wider the stance, the more you work your glutes. If you want to leave squats alone for now, you can use a leg press machine.

  • The information regarding the squat is not correct. Actually in that position the knee is unloaded and the lower back. The issue is the lack of flexibility of the hips, quadriceps, hamstrings and lower leg/foot that influences an individual’s ability to squat and their squat depth. Look at Asians of all ages they squat all the way down to eat and do other social things without any issue. Look at an infant and young children how low down they squat we just lose that ability. Women in many parts of the world give birth in that position. Check this link out how to squat and your ability to maintain this position will determine how low you can squat.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGWpeCdLLmc&context=C2baa9UDOEgsToPDskKk-QqX_J__VLM0Ujm51FCy