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Exercises to avoid at the gym

Woman exercising on leg extension machine
What to do in the gym?  This is a question physical therapists get often.  This topic has been addressed in other blogs (if you are interested check last month’s entries).  However, just as important are the most important exercises to avoid.  

The Big Three

Knee Extension:

This is the machine that the bar is over your legs and you extend your knees from a bent to straight position with resistance.  The problem with the exercise is the force it puts through your patella (knee cap).  As the knee straightens without the foot on the ground it grinds the patella into the joint and cartilage.  As a replacement try the leg press or squats.

Lateral Shoulder Raise:

This exercise is a dumbbell or machine based exercise that involved raising the arms sideways to or above shoulder level.  The problem is when you raise up with weights in your hands it pinches your rotator cuff and may lead to impingement, pain, or tearing.  A good replacement would be sidelying or cable outward rotation.

Shoulder Shrugs:

This exercise is with weights in each hand pulling your shoulders up towards your ears targeting the Upper Trapezius.  This exercise often aggravates neck and shoulder pain and tightness secondary to limiting spaces for nerves to leave the neck.  A good replacement would be reverse flys with dumbbells or cables.

If you have any questions with what to do or not to do in the gym please reach out to Atlas Physical Therapy.