Friday, 13 July 2012

Unsafe Exercises - #1


One of the best exercises - ever!


 have a suspicion that most of us involved in the martial arts discover the right and the wrong ways of doing exercises gradually - and through experience.

I remember in the mid-60s, Judo Sensei Frank Hatashita telling our Jiu Jitsu class that the American Medical Association had just declared deep knee bends an unsafe exercise. (We used to do deep knee bends with partners on our backs…as well a “duck walks” where we walked around the mats in a deep knee position. We stopped doing these exercises in a big hurry!).

Neck stretches, sit ups, touching the toes while the knees are straight…I learned about the do’s and don’t’s as I progressed.

(The trouble with martial artists is that a high pain threshold is part of the mindset we build…so if our bodies complain about a certain exercise performed incorrectly, we tend to ignore the signals. That is until the problem becomes persistent).

Today, I’d like to touch on a few pernicious variations of some fairly standard warm up exercises mostly everyone uses.

Not recommended -touching the toes with the knees straight


TOE  TOUCH - Bending down to touch your toes with the knees straight places extra compressive force on the knees and the back. Would you lift a box this way?

Recommended - place your foot on a step instead and lean forward to stretch the leg and back.

Slow, gradual - then hold.


SIT UPS - Sitting up all the way to the knees is terrible for the back. In fact, the last 2/3 of the way does absolutely nothing for your ab muscles. I prefer gradually moving into a position at a distance 1/3 from the floor to the knees. Never “snap” or “jerk” up from the floor; that’s your back doing all the work. Pull up gradually, using only the muscles of the abdomen.

We used to tuck our hands behind our neck. I prefer a position that places less strain on the lower back - arms close in front of the chest.

I feel that quality is always better than quantity. I could tell people that I’ve just performed 100 sit ups in a minute…but what I’ve really done is placed 100 mini-traumas through compressive force on the discs of my lower back.

As I struggle to create my 6 pack abs, my spine is starting to wear out!

Recommended - slowly raise torso to 1/3 of the way off the floor using your ab muscles for the lift.

The hurdler stretch - performed correctly.


HURDLER STRETCH - we do a lot of leg stretching in martial arts, and the hurdler stretch is one of the most popular. However, I find that the position of the bent knee should see the foot folded in, not out. Placing the foot out and tucking the knee in puts an undue amount of pressure on your folded knee!

Recommended - leg folded with foot facing in, or just place your foot on a step and lean forward to stretch the leg and back.

Neck stretches - slowly and gently to the side


NECK STRETCHES - should be done gently and slowly. The 7 cervical vertebrate add up to a very delicate area of the human body. Never tilt the head all the way backward. This places a major strain on the first 2 cervical vertebrate.

Recommended - half circles from side to side.

I’m going to add another list in a future post. In the meantime, please examine your own exercise program and make sure that the techniques are safe!

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