As you walk around the weight room, you see people performing a variety of exercises. Some of them may be unfamiliar but seem to offer compelling benefits. However, don't jump the gun when deciding to add an exercise to your program. You could do more harm than good to your body and performance.
Many gym "instructors" lack the training knowledge necessary to recommend exercises for sports performance, basing their suggestions on old-fashioned routines or word-of-mouth testimonials about looking good in front of a mirror or impressing friends instead of getting stronger and faster on the field and staying injury-free.
Athletes can reduce the risk of injury and improve their performance by knowing which exercises are inherently dangerous. As a start, avoid these four commonly-performed exercises, which have been found to increase the risk of injury from training.
Target Muscles: Deltoids and other upper body muscles
Problem: The rotation of the arm through the movement of this exercise causes wear and tear that could damage shoulder ligaments or other supporting structures.
Alternative: Shoulder Press, Dumbbell Front Raise
Target Muscles: Latissimus Dorsi [Lats]
Problem: This exercise rotates the arm in the shoulder to a position that stresses the rotator cuff muscles. Also, lack of flexibility causes improper form, which stresses the spine.
Alternative: Lat Pulldown, Pull-Up
Behind-The-Neck Shoulder Press
Target Muscles: Deltoids
Problem: This exercise also rotates the arm in the shoulder to a position that stresses the rotator cuff muscles. Lifting a large amount of weight with this exercise puts the supporting structure of the joint at risk.
Alternative: DB Shoulder Press, Barbell Shoulder Press
RDL on Bench
Target Muscles: Hamstrings, Glutes, Low Back Extensors
Problem: Lowering the bar below the feet places excessive stress on the lower back, compromising form and risking injury.
Alternative: RDL, Single-Leg RDL
With any exercise, be mindful of how your body feels. If a movement causes pain or you feel uncomfortable, stop what you are doing. There are alternative exercises you can perform for that specific muscle group. It's not worth risking an injury that could keep you out of a practice or game.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock