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Dangerous exercises and the safe alternatives

On April 10, 2007

Dangerous: Posterior (Behind-the-Neck) Pull Downs- This exercise rotates your shoulders into a position that strains your rotator cuffs, paving the way for inflammation.

Safe: Anterior (Front) Pull Downs- Not only is pulling the bar to your chest easier on your shoulders, but there is also a greater range of motion for greater muscle growth.

Dangerous:Behind-the-NeckShoulder Presses- Just as posterior pull downs strain your shoulders on the way down, this exercise hurts them on the way up. 'Weight lifter's shoulder', an over-use injury, may result from this movement.

Safe: Alternating Shoulder Presses- Sit on a Swiss ball and hold a pair of dumbbells overhead with your arms straight and palms facing each other. Next, bend your left elbow and lower your left arm, moving your elbow out to the side, until your upper arm is parallel with the floor. Press it back up and repeat with your right arm.

Dangerous: Straight Bar Curls- The problem with straight bar curls is that they lock your arms into an unnatural palms-up position and stress your elbow joints.

Safe: E-Z Bar Curls- The bar is angled to put your elbows in a more natural neutral position. You can do these standing or on a ball making sure your thumbs are facing forward when contracting the muscle.

Dangerous: Leg extensions- This exercise can cause uneven compression between the kneecap and thighbone, inflaming the tendon that connects the kneecap to the shinbone (a painful injury known as jumper's knee).

Safe: Squats- To squat safely, place the bar across your shoulders (not your neck) and keep your back straight, bending slightly at the hips through the squatting motion. Proper form is crucial with this exercise.

Dangerous: Sit-ups- Not only are sit-ups bad for your neck, but they're also one of the least-effective abdominal exercises you can do, according to a recent study at San Diego State University.

Safe: Bicycle Crunches- That same study found the bicycle maneuver works the abs and obliques 250 percent better than traditional crunches or sit-ups. Lie on your back with your feet up in the air and bend your knees at a 90-degree angle.

For extra help on these and more exercises, visit the Eagle Strength Center. There are personal trainers on call waiting to help you and your muscles.

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