Exercising: Are The Machines You Use Dangerous?


The changing of the season seems to act like a pinprick in our conscience, or perhaps a little reminder that something we’ve been putting off, needs to be taken care of. Tackling extra weight or improving fitness are two things that seem to come to the front of mind more easily than cleaning leaves out of gutters or tidying the home office. That may be because we can see it in the mirror or feel it after walking up a long flight of stairs.

Could the local gym be sending out subliminal messages as you pass by it, reminding you about the roll of extra puppy fat you’re carrying around? Whether that is true or not, more people end up at the gym, choosing it over working out at home or in the park. Which one you choose can depend on the money you have available, the advice you can get at the gym, the range of exercises, even shyness until you trim up your body.

Most people believe that all forms of exercise are safe and healthy. The truth is, there are some exercises that aren’t good for you at all. Some are simply ineffective while others can be downright dangerous. If you choose a machine-assisted workout, whether it is at the gym, at home, or in the park, be aware that some dangers while working out are the actual machines themselves. They can cause your body to move in unusual or unnatural ways, causing pain, discomfort and even injury. A machine that is safe for one person may not be safe for you due to adjustment or the structure of your body.

Here are some of the machines that are most likely to cause injury.

Most Popular Machines

Even the most common machines pose a danger if you don’t use them properly. Treadmills, the most common exercise machine found in gyms everywhere, including at home, are responsible for an incredible number of fall-related injuries. Stationary bikes, another gym staple, are infamous for aggravating the knees, hands and elbows. Rowing machines put unnecessary force on the muscles in the back and can result in herniated disks. Good Morning America reported the Bowflex injured more than 70 people after the tower came loose and collapsed. Most of these injuries were to the head, neck and shoulder, leading to recalls of some models. Thankfully, this was a tiny percentage of the units sold, and was due in most cases to massively strong people pressuring the machine past its capability.

Leg Machines

People who want to tone their bodies often work on their legs, and this is especially true for women, because the legs are one of the most difficult parts of our body to shape. The seated leg press is a popular exercise because it works out the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps. These leg presses can cause lower back injuries if the hips and shoulders are not properly used for stabilization. Leg curl machines, which extend the leg until the knees are locked, put a lot of stress on the knees causing them to scrape against the femur.

Arm/Shoulder Machines

Machines that work out the arms, shoulders and back are widely used by fitness fanatics, but they are some of the most dangerous machines. The Smith Machine is known to tear shoulder ligaments and place stress on the joints and stabilizer muscles. The Pec Deck is designed to work the pectoral muscles and deltoids while sitting down. People who use this machine put their shoulders in a position that can easily dislocate them and tear ligaments, especially as heavier weights are used. The seated military press is also notorious for injuring the shoulders because the machine doesn’t allow the weight to be distributed over the hips.

Read the instructions and ask for professional advice, to maximize effectiveness and minimize possibility of injury

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use machines at the gym, at home or in the park. Many of them are useful and effective when used properly. If you’re unsure about the proper way to adjust and use a machine, ask a trainer for assistance. Read the instructions thoroughly. If the exercise feels uncomfortable, unnatural or painful, stop doing it, read the instructions and seek advice.

Pam Smith is is a businesswoman interested in Sport and Fitness Administration and Management. She is motivated by the power of the human body, when it is looked after correctly.

By Pam Smith

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