Why Cardio Can Put Your Back at Risk

Earlier this month, TIME Healthland wrote about the 5 most common mistakes that gym-goers are making during their workouts. The first one listed was “going overboard on cardio machines”. The author, Alexandra Sifferlin, noted that failing to use cardio machines correctly could place them at risk for a less-effective workout, as well as injury. She notes:

“If you’re using an elliptical machine, for instance, don’t set the resistance so high that you can’t work out comfortably without leaning on the machine for support. “Hunching over or using a death grip on the machine handrail because your incline or resistance is too high for you cheats your body and can throw off your alignment, jarring your spine, shoulders and elbows,” says Scott Danberg, the director of fitness at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami.”

Now, I watch the Biggest Loser, so I know that when you are using a cardio machine, whether it be the elliptical or a treadmill, you should be keeping your HANDS OFF. Lord knows that Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper have screamed this advice (or would it be order?) at participants season to season. However, I thought it was important to share that excerpt with you, as I didn’t realize how much it could affect your spine and the rest of your body. I was practicing this advice based solely on the knowledge that using your hands for supports leads to a less effective workout.

Similar to your daily routine outside of the gym, you want to maintain awareness of your posture during your workout. A hunched stance, either on a cardio machine or while doing a free weight exercise, can lead to misalignment of the spine. This, in turn, will affect not only your back in terms of pain, but can affect other areas of your body. When a vertebra in the spine is misaligned, this can affect the closest nerve, causing pain in other areas besides your back.

“Maintaining good form while lifting will also improve your overall posture. “Generally, people who don’t have good posture have tight or weak muscles,” says Danberg. “If you do not think about your form while you are lifting, you are training poor posture.””

That is why it is so important to make sure that you take note of your form during your workouts. Mr. Danberg recommends leaving your books and magazines at home. These reading materials can distract you from concentration on performing an effective, and most importantly, safe, workout.

Supplementary to maintaining proper form and posture during your workout, maintaining regular adjustments by your chiropractor will also help keep your back pain at bay. Chiropractic adjustments will not only help decrease or eliminate pain, but encourage overall body health and wellness.

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