I’m all for building muscle.
You need developed muscles to support your posture, safely perform daily activities, and continue to enjoy an active life well into you eighth, ninth, or tenth decade.
But a lot of people, in their quest to build bulk, waste a lot of time and even increase their risk of injury. Proper weight training techniques are important. Based on my extensive knowledge of anatomy and movement science, my clinical experience, and my exposure to numerous systems of alignment and body development, I’ve identified three common exercise myths.
Abdominal crunches, curl-ups and sit-ups actually put more pressure on your discs and can make your low back worse
An isometric abdominal stabilizing exercise – the plank pose in yoga – helps the stomach muscles support the back better than all the sit-ups or crunches in the world. It’s actually the only abdominal exercise you’ll ever need.
Typical rehab exercises for the knee can make your pain worse
The most commonly prescribed exercise to strengthen the knee is to sit and lift a weight by straightening the knee. The problem is — it puts more pressure on the kneecap (patella) and can make your pain worse. A simple dance exercise – plié – is safer and more effective. Or use the leg press machine in your gym.
Your brain needs a workout too
I don’t mean doing crossword puzzles. I mean becoming aware of your body movement, alignment and breath. It’s important to learn new movement skills (tango, anyone?), not just grunt your way through a repetitive workout.
In order for your muscles to work effectively, they have to be organized, motivated, and coordinated by your brain. When you exercise vigorously, what actually tires first can be the nerve signals that control the muscles (not only the muscles themselves.)
Complex, skill-based exercises (fencing? ballet? t’ai ch’i? figure skating?) are important brain-enhancing activities.