Be careful at the gym!
I’ve been working with a personal trainer to improve my muscle strength and cardiac endurance.
At one point my trainer had me doing overhead shoulder presses. After the first few lifts, I knew this was a bad idea. I struggled to lift the bar over my head, even with minimal weight (wimpy arms!).
Since then I’ve been having shooting pains in my right arm and shoulder. Then I watched this video from one of my favorite YouTubers, The Two Most Famous Physical Therapists, who confirmed what I thought: overhead shoulder presses are bad.
Exercises they describe as harmful or dangerous, especially if done improperly, are:
- toe touches
- good mornings
- full sit-ups
- bent over rows
- shoulder presses
- full squats
- dead lifts
- leg presses
- upright rows
- treadmill (with poor posture)
For more information about why you should avoid these particular exercises, watch the video!
Personal trainers are not physical therapists
Although there can appear to be some overlap between these two groups, their education and goals are very different.
Physical therapists generally have a master’s degree, are licensed, and must participate in continuing education to keep up their license. Physical therapists diagnose and treat injuries or disabilities related to disease.
Personal trainers, on the other hand, do not have any standardized education program or regulatory agency. Their backgrounds and training will be extremely varied. The main goal of a personal trainer is to design an exercise program to meet the client’s fitness goals.
When selecting a personal trainer, ask about his or her qualifications and training. Are they accredited by any group such as the American Council on Exercise, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, or the American College of Sports Medicine?
Make sure they ask about your physical condition, such as previous injuries, chronic conditions and any medications you’re taking. If they don’t ask, tell them.
I did tell my personal trainer that I had issues with my right arm, mostly arthritis in my wrist and elbow. I wanted to work on upper body strength, but knew I had to take it slowly. I realized after the fact that I should have communicated this more clearly.
Bottom line, when working with a personal trainer, be aware of the limits of their practice. They can be excellent sources of information about exercises and equipment, and they can help keep you motivated and on track towards your fitness goals.
But if your body is telling you an exercise doesn’t feel right, stop.
My arm certainly wishes I had!