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Beware: These popular workouts can actually hurt you

August 18, 2014 09:47 IST

Beware: These popular workouts can actually hurt you

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Shameem Akhtar

Watch out for injuries when using these machines/workouts.

The enthusiasm for working out is a good thing. But the downside is that unsupervised workouts are rather haphazard.

It’s not just a matter of buying equipment and following the pamphlet that comes with it. Or attending a short gym session and believing it is okay to do that on your own.

Many offices are now equipped with gyms. Many housing societies also have their own gyms.

This means there is plenty of opportunity to work out on one’s own and I’m happy that people are so engaged with their health.

But workouts have their pitfalls, and you need a well-trained professional to help you get 100 per cent out of it.

If you attend a gym, make sure the trainer is at hand, and appears to know the machines and is watching out for you.

Many gyms have poorly trained trainers with some vague certificate of qualification or just a buffed up body. They are not fully literate about all aspects of danger-free training.

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, alerts you to the hidden dangers of four popular work-outs.

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Photographs: Abhijit Mhamunkar

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Treadmill threats

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Abroad there is a high alert about treadmill mistakes and dangers, but in India it is still the most sort-after workout.

Since only the lower limbs are worked out, there is high stress on the joints -- like the knees and lower back (at the spine).

Most people think of the treadmill as a warm-up to the rest of their gym practice and do not prepare enough with a thorough warm-up before attempting it.

They also rush off to do other things without a cool-down since they think it is meant to heat them up.

Wearing down of the knee joint in the young can often be attributed directly to overuse and misuse of the treadmill.

Because the balance is tricky on the treadmill, most people when they hike up the uphill elevation end up walking wrong, hugely stressing the back.

In the United States, after the unfortunate death of Mike Tyson’s child through a treadmill accident, several articles were written about the dangers of using the treadmill when one’s attention is switched off resulting in burns, falls and serious injuries.

In India, it is still hip to mentally ‘switch off’ while doing the treadmill. Any workout where the mind is switched off can only give a fraction of the benefits. Plus, it could cause all those accidents that are never spoken about.

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Photographs: Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters

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Trampoline trouble

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The trampoline made waves a few decades ago and a lot of interest was whipped up in the jumps as a great way to achieving overall health.

People undoubtedly looked happier on trampolines than on treadmills. The very act of jumping makes you scream or grin and releases those endorphins and eustress (happy stress) hormones.

Since then, the trampoline has lost some of its sheen due to the number of accidents it has caused.

The material you jump on will wear out, the rings that hold them are where you may land badly, and then fall off.

Media reports indicate that this is more a high risk adventure than fun and you may want to avoid it.

The most common injuries are fractures, especially of the upper body, which shows just how risky jumping for fun can be.

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Photographs: Stephane Mahe/Reuters
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Spinning spiel

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The craze for this started a few years ago. It seems to give a tremendous high to its fans.

Knee troubles from spinning have been highlighted but another common and less known form of injury is lower back weakness, including slipped disc.

Those who have suffered the latter may not make the connection. But, when the seat is too high or too low, or if one is leaning forward too much and encouraging more exciting movements over the stationary bike, there are loads of things happening that are not always good.

These include straining at most of the joints, including the delicate wrists, and the hips. While muscles may get their due work out, it comes at the expense of overstraining and injuring major and crucial joints.

You may want to rethink this form of work-out and replace it with others.

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Photographs: Creative Commons/Antony McCallum
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Rowing risks

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Rowing machines are also popular among those who train on their own, but they too come with risks.

The rowing machine must allow for smooth movements. But most amateurs believe, erroneously, that they work out more if they can spike up the resistance.

This could put unnatural strain on the lower back and the neck (you are also likely to get a jowl, as the wrong muscles develop to support the wrong movement at the upper body).

Adjusting the machine to get it right, buying a complete machine which gives different types of resistances, having a trainer to point out the mistakes you are making (in adjusting the seat and resistance) is crucial when using this machine.

Otherwise, you are likely to strain joints of the hands and the spine. Hardly the outcome you want when you buy the machine to better your health!


Photographs: Jason Oxenham/Getty Images
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