Safe and Unsafe Exercises
Some stretching exercises can do more harm to your physical health than good.
This article offers advice on High-Risk Exercises to avoid, together with Safe Alternatives.
Standing Toe Touches
Standing toe touches are designed to stretch the hamstrings, however stretching in the position shown on the left will place unnecessary stress on the spine (particularly the lower back) and on the knees.
Lying Hamstring Stretch
Head and Shoulders should be relaxed and in complete contact with the floor. Supporting leg should be down with the knee bent slightly so that it is comfortable. The lifting leg could be supported with a towel or your arm.
Double Leg Lift
This exercise is designed to strengthen the abdominal muscles, however the double leg lift will place great unnecessary stress on the lumbar spine causing lower back pain.
Lying Abdominal Curls
The safer way to work your abdominal muscles is to lay flat on your back with your legs bent at the knee in a relaxed position, bringing your head gently up towards your thighs with your arms across your chest.
The Unsafe way to do Sit-Ups
Sit ups where you put your hands behind your head (or on your neck) and physically pull your head up can put great stress on your neck and upper back.
The Safe way to do Sit-Ups
The correct way to perform sit-ups is with your hands behind your ears. With both this and the abdominal curve tilt your pelvis to flatten the small of your back and pull in your tummy muscles before lifting your head and shoulders to perform the curl.
Safe Neck Stretching:
Full Neck Circles
Performing full neck circles (with your chin up in the air) may feel like it is stretching your neck in a good way, however in the long term this will stress the neck muscles and damage the cervical spine.
Half Neck Circles
The safe way to stretch ones neck is to go from shoulder to shoulder (rather than from ear to ear), keeping your chin facing downward throughout the process.
To avoid injury in the long term, one should perform this exercise slowly and gently.