Exercise is good for the body. It lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke, keeps the muscles toned and joints lubricated, and releases endorphins that just make you feel good. Even with back and neck pain, you need to get out and exercise. The key to not injuring yourself, but strengthening your back instead, is knowing what kinds of exercise to avoid. If you suffer from neck or back pain, skip these 6 exercise machines when you go to the gym.
The elliptical is often touted as the exercise machine of choice for those who suffer from joint pain. Many people seem to just naturally carry that over to neck and back pain as well. Surprisingly, the elliptical is actually a bad choice for those who suffer from lumbar disc problems. Live Healthy points out that when you use the elliptical, you are in a slightly bent over position. This flexible posture means that you twist more in the lumbar region, which creates more pain. If you suffer from lower back pain, this is one machine you should skip. Instead, try walking for your workout.
Lying Leg Press
The lying leg press is used to work your front thigh muscles. You sit in a tipped back position and push the weights with your legs. Physical Living says that being locked into a machine that causes the back to flex repetitively can create problems. The constant repetition puts unnecessary strain on the lower back and can cause a herniated disc or just further irritate existing back problems. To work out your front thighs, try doing goblet squats or working with free weights instead.
Men’s Fitness names the hip abductor as one you should never use. It works your glutes and your thigh muscles. You put a great deal of strain on your spine as you squeeze the machine together or force it apart. Rather than using the hip abductor, doing squats or lunges will get you the same workout to the muscles without putting your back at risk.
Loaded Standing Calf Raise
The loaded standing calf raise places weight on your shoulders that you proceed to lift using your legs. The idea is to get a leg workout, but the weight that sits on your shoulders compresses your spine. For those who suffer from back pain already, this exacerbates an existing problem. Rather than using the machine, Amanda Murdock, a certified personal trainer, recommends doing split squats, with one foot in a lunge and the other foot on the ground.
Lower Back Lab knocks the Roman chair off the workout list. It’s like doing sit-ups for your back. You lie on your stomach, allowing your torso to hang down over the “chair.” You then flex your back to raise your upper body even with your legs. The Roman chair gives a great workout to your lower back, middle back and abdominals. Unfortunately, if you suffer from lower back pain, the Roman chair also makes it worse.
Seated Torso Rotation
For the same reason the elliptical is a problem, the seated torso rotation should be avoided. You are constantly twisting the spine, causing “high compressive forces on the spine.” If your spine is already compromised, you will further damage it with all the twisting. Liz Barnet, a certified personal trainer, recommends trying a supine cross-crawl instead.
- Lie on your back, with arms extended up to the ceiling and knees at a table top position. Be sure when you bring your knees up, you maintain the neutral arch of the lower back. Starting with your right arm and left leg, extend your arm over your head and your leg away from you until they are both straight and 45-degrees away from your body. Bring back to start and repeat without moving the other arm and leg or your lower back.
Just because you suffer from neck and back pain doesn’t mean you have to stop working out. You just have to be smart about what you do. Protect your back from unnecessary strain while strengthening your core muscles. Look for alternatives to exercises that can cause more damage than good. If you’re uncertain what you should or shouldn’t do, speak with the specialists at Atlanta Brain and Spine Care today. Let them get you working out in a healthy manner again.