I hate starting posts like this but, again, I have to apologize for being MIA for the past month or so from the blogosphere. I could blame it on being busy but to be honest I have just been a little run down from training for my next meet and simultaneously making the world a better place by creating better booties. Literally.
One of those rare things I like to call thoughts came to my head for a topic I can write about on a regular basis. It is basically a list of “Don’t Do This” list of exercises that I see people doing around the gym. Some of make me want to go out back and pour salt into my eyes and wash it out with hot coffee. Taking the other road though, I usually just scratch my head and move on.
I could easily write a book on this but I am going to limit myself to one head scratcher, back breaker, or exercise that will make your trainer go blind for having witnessed per post.
First to make the list is one that I happened to walk by today that made my spine cry like it just watched Marley % Me….for the 17th time….and turned it off before the end.
Not sure what to call it since there was no rhyme or reason to the way it was performed so for semantics sake I will call them hanging leg twist thingamagiggers. Very similar to hanging leg twists (also on the banned exercise list) except this guy was curled in the fetal positon violently rotating from side to side.
So, why do people do it?
What this exercise is believed to do is strengthen your obliques and give you a 6-pack like Mike “The Situation” (insert last name here). Just because you see some dingleberry doing something on TV doesn’t mean its okay. Would you recreate the stunts you see on Jackass? Same thing.
Why it is bad:
Even though twisting exercise like this schmasmortion will in fact strengthen muscles around your mid section such as your obliques, it will in turn ruin your back. I have worked with alot of clients who have great 6packs to go along with thier ruined backs. I blame it on shitty trainers and the media who still seem to believe that a great 6-pack = a great core. *slaps forehead*
Although your “core” muscles are getting worked, your spine is being wrenched in a way that provides shearing forces between each lumbar vertebrae. Doing them once might not break your back but according to Dr. Stuart McGill, your spine is similar to a credit card in the way that it only gets so many bends. You may not cause serious trauma between bends 1 and 10,000 but at bend 10,001 the credit card is going to snap.
Combine that with sitting in spinal flexion all day while pretending to work and reading my blog and you are playing with fire.
What to do instead:
Work the same muscles without f$%ing up your spine. Basically start focusing on exercises that force you to prevent rotation in your lumbar spine rather than cause it. If you have no idea what I’m talking about (heck, neither do I) then check out a post I did on anti-rotation exercises.
Regarding core training and your obliques, what is the difference between anti-rotation exercises and those that cause trunk rotation? A happy spine.
I could talk about the torsional and shearing forces that are placed on your spine with each twist and crunch but I will not bore you with the sciency stuff. Just know that the force with each crunch on a single vertebrea is similar to that of an elephant stepping on a peanut.
So instead of wasting your only good spine, do exercises like this instead:
Standing Pallof Press