Category Archives: Do This , Not That

Do This, Not That

by Colleen Morgan, PT, MS, OCS, CSCS

Whether you are a weekend warrior or competitive athlete,

a life-long “gym rat” or exercise newbie, it’s important to know which gym exercises are worth your time and energy.  Learn what exercises most physical therapists would categorize as worthless (perhaps even downright dangerous) and explore some healthy alternatives in our recurring blog column “Do This, Not That!”

Do This!

Not That!

Bird dog may look (and sound) like a weird exercise, but similar to the plank, it’s a great “whole body” exercise.  This is a surprisingly functional exercise: Remember how tired you were after you knelt to clean the bathtub?  Stabilization of your core, upper body, and lower body occurs as soon as you get onto hands and knees.  The exercise becomes progressively more challenging as you lift just one arm, just one leg, alternating arm and leg, and finally same-sided arm and leg.  Keep that tummy tight to support your back! Seated back extensions against resistance.Sitting imposes the greatest compressive load through the lumbar spine.  Forcefully extending your back against resistance creates a compressive force rather than a stabilizing force through your lumbar spine.  Add on the fact that you are sitting and you have a potential recipe for harmful spinal compression!
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Do This, Not That

by Colleen Morgan, PT, MS, OCS, CSCS

Whether you are a weekend warrior or competitive athlete,

a life-long “gym rat” or exercise newbie, it’s important to know which gym exercises are worth your time and energy.  Learn what exercises most physical therapists would categorize as worthless (perhaps even downright dangerous) and explore some healthy alternatives in our recurring blog column “Do This, Not That!”

Do This!

Not That!

Side Plank
You thought a plank was challenging?  Try a side plank as well!  It’s another great “whole body” exercise, but it isolates one side of your body at a time as you improve the endurance of scapular/shoulder stabilizers, obliques, and hip abductors.  Start on elbow and knees (with knees bent).  When you can hold that position perfectly for at least 30 seconds, progress to the straight leg version below.  Be sure to hold equally from side to side to ensure symmetry.
Seated oblique twists against resistance 

Sure, we all want rippling abs, but what are the potential consequences?  Studies have shown that lumbar spine compressive forces double from a position of sidelying to a position of sitting.  This machine also increases harmful spinal compressive loads by locking your hips and pelvis in place!  Without appropriate force dissipation, your spine bears the bulk of this load!

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Do This, Not That

by Colleen Morgan, PT, MS, OCS, CSCS

Whether you are a weekend warrior or competitive athlete,

a life-long “gym rat” or exercise newbie, it’s important to know which gym exercises are worth your time and energy.  Learn what exercises most physical therapists would categorize as worthless (perhaps even downright dangerous) and explore some healthy alternatives in our recurring blog column “Do This, Not That!”

Do This!

Not That!

Planks are the perfect “whole body” exercise as muscles from your head to your toes are contracting to keep you stable.  They also effectively recruit your “core” which includes the muscles of your abdominals, buttocks, shoulder blades and spine.  Hit the floor and hold this position as straight as a plank! Full sit ups emphasize your rectus abdominus (aka your six pack muscle) which connects the base of your ribcage to your pubic bone.  This muscle has no attachments to your low back.  In fact, as you perform a sit up, the rectus abdominus compressed your spine, creating excessive loads to the discs.  Those with a history of low back pain should stick to crunches as they are less stressful to the spine.
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How to Be Compliant With Your Exercise Program

By Mike Kwong, PTA, CSCS

Starting and continuing an exercise routine can be a tough task. Fifty percent of those who start an exercise program usually drop out in 6 months. So why is it so difficult to maintain consistency? There are many factors that contribute to this and here are several strategies to combat them!

Location: Make sure you find a place that you are comfortable performing your exercise routine. Some are more likely to work out when they are home while others need to get away from the distractions at home and go to an exercise facility. If you do choose a gym, find one that is conveniently located to home or work.  Remember, the most expensive gym membership is the one you never use.

Schedule: Finding out a consistent time to work out is the next step. Is it going to be in the mornings before you start work or in the evenings after work? Weekdays or weekends only? 2 times a week? 3 times? 4 times? Just make sure it is something attainable for you. If you are a person who likes to watch late night TV, then it may not be advisable to try to wake up at 6 am to get your morning routine in before work. More than likely, you will choose that snooze button versus dragging your butt out of bed to do some burpees.

Habit: Make physical activity part of your routine. If you are planning to go to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays after work, don’t stray away from it. Write them down on your calendar as you would for a doctor’s appointment or dentist visit. Reschedule your usual Friday happy hour retreat for Thursdays if it interferes.  Also, I like to pack my bag with my workout clothes the night before—you’ll have one less excuse the following morning.

Social Support: Find a workout partner, personal trainer or exercise in a group setting. Most people are more motivated when somebody else is pushing you. There were times when I would get off of work and feel “tired” and not wanting to go the gym, but my workout partner would just say “see you at the gym” and that would just change my whole perception on how I felt. I needed that extra “kick” to get going. Who knows? You may be the social support your partner needs on other days! Keep each other accountable. Here at CPMC’s Physical Therapy and Wellness clinic, we offer several group classes, including Pilates, Fit for Life, and Total Body Fitness. But, if you feel you need something a bit more individualized, we also have 1 on 1 Fitness training as well. All classes and 1 on 1 sessions are led by our skilled Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants.

socialsupport

Goals: Whether you are a post-op surgical patient needing to improve mobility to reach your arm overhead, a novice runner striving to run a ½ marathon in 3 months, or a person looking to lose the last few pounds/inches to look good in that swimsuit, we all have fitness goals. Commit to your goals. In the beginning, you will be very motivated to achieve these goals, but it is not unusual for your motivation to dip a bit. Find a way to track and monitor your progress. Use a journal or your smartphone to jot down your activity during the day/week. Nowadays, there are even apps to help you with tracking your mileage when you walk, run, bike, etc. If you don’t have a phone that allows you to do these functions, think about purchasing a pedometer, heart rate monitor, or stopwatch to track your progress.

These are some strategies that you can use to adhere to an exercise program.  Find the ones that work best for you.  Finding activities that are fun and convenient, setting goals, monitoring your progress, performing a variety of exercises and activities as well as having social support are great ways to help with staying compliant. Good luck!

Do This, Not That

by Colleen Morgan, PT, MS, OCS, CSCS

Whether you are a weekend warrior or competitive athlete,

a life-long “gym rat” or exercise newbie, it’s important to know which gym exercises are worth your time and energy.  Learn what exercises most physical therapists would categorize as worthless (perhaps even downright dangerous) and explore some healthy alternatives in our recurring blog column “Do This, Not That!”

Do This!

Not That!

Sidestepping with an elastic band is no longer just an exercise for athletes.  Moving laterally while sidestepping helps to improve multiplane balance while the band’s resistance encourages gluteal and hip rotator muscle activation for knee and foot stability.  These muscles are critical for good balance and are best strengthened in functional positions such as sidestepping! Seated resisted hip abduction/adduction.  RIP Suzanne Somers Thighmaster:  You, much like most of the 1990s, are happily forgotten.  The same thing goes for this ridiculous exercise where you forcedly move your thighs in and out against resistance.  Not only is this exercise not functional, but the abduction portion activates your hip flexors and tensor fascia latae (TFL), which tend to be very strong muscles vs chronically weak gluteals.  This seated exercise may reinforce muscular imbalances in the lower extremities.
 Sidestepping  Hip Adductor Machine

Do This, Not That!

by Colleen Morgan, PT, MS, OCS, CSCS

Whether you are a weekend warrior or competitive athlete,

a life-long “gym rat” or exercise newbie, it’s important to know which gym exercises are worth your time and energy.  Learn what exercises most physical therapists would categorize as worthless (perhaps even downright dangerous) and explore some healthy alternatives in our recurring blog column “Do This, Not That!”

 

Do This!

Not that!

Squats are functional exercises that combine stability and balance.  Most people complete some form of squat throughout the day including getting into/out of a chair and lifting or picking an object off the floor.When performing squats for exercise, do not allow your knees to move beyond your toes to avoid knee joint compression and improve strength in your buttocks.When performing squats with resistance on your shoulders, remain in a squat rack with assistance by a trainer or spotter(s) for safety! Double leg press.  Imagine laying on your back, stacking 300 lbs on your shoulders and curling into a tight ball.  Now imagine your low back screaming at you for loading so much weight through those once fluffy, smooth lumbar discs.  Putting a loaded spine into flexion (which can be achieved as you progressively bend your knees and hips in a leg press) can lead to or result in injury to the discs.  If you insist on doing a leg press, at least reduce the weight by half and perform one leg at a time to protect your back!
 Standing Squat  Double Leg Press

 

Do This, Not That!

by Colleen Morgan, PT, MS, OCS, CSCS

Whether you are a weekend warrior or competitive athlete,

a life-long “gym rat” or exercise newbie, it’s important to know which gym exercises are worth your time and energy.  Learn what exercises most physical therapists would categorize as worthless (perhaps even downright dangerous) and explore some healthy alternatives in our recurring blog column “Do This, Not That!”

Do This!

Not That!

Lunges help to improve quadriceps strength using a functional movement pattern your body may use throughout the day.  You can vary the degree of knee bend depending on your comfort level and stability.  Since you are standing, you are also working on your balance and core stability.  If you’ve mastered your forward lunges, progress to lunges in multiple directions. Seated knee extensions against resistance.  Upon mentioning this popular exercise to a physical therapist, expect their reaction to include the following: redness of the face, difficulty speaking, and spontaneous combustion.  Okay, so that’s an exaggeration, but if you know anything about the knee joint, you will loathe this exercise.  Seated knee extensions against resistance isolate your quadriceps, but put unnatural, excessive load and stress on your patellofemoral joint and ACL, which can lead to knee pain and injury.
 Lunge
 Seated Knee Extension Machine