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Dangers Of Using Health Club Equipment With Low Back Pain

Who ever thought there could be danger in using health club equipment when you suffer from low back pain? Don’t think this could be so? Give me a few minutes of your time and I’ll see if I can change your mind.

Let’s create a scenario. You’ve just come back from a trip to the doctor’s office and you’ve made the decision to finally do something about your low back pain. Your doctor informs you that you absolutely must lose some weight and start exercising or you’ll continue to suffer. The only prescription you’re given is to simply “eat less and go join a health club”.

Now if your doctor tells you to join a health club and start exercising it must be good advice right? We’ll you’re about to learn the truth that will open your eyes. While exercise is certainly part of your solution, not just any exercise will do.

In fact most of the exercises being performed in a health club may make your low back pain even worse!

Before I tell you why, let’s look at what’s causing the majority of low-back pain issues. It will help you see the common sense rationale for why I believe the health club solution is not much of a solution at all.

Low-back pain issue is the second most common cause of visits to the doctor right after cold and flu. Here’s the truth of the matter. There’s one reason why back pain is so prevalent in our society today. Can you guess what it is? This problem is primarily due to one thing.we sit too much!

Think about it, you’re more than likely sitting down reading this right now. We sit more hours during the day than we walk on our own two feet!

You probably get in the car sit down and drive to work. Next you go in and sit at your desk all day only to return to the car, sit down and drive home. Finally you’ll end your day by sitting down in front of the TV. Give me a break.

Your body will start conforming to the position it’s in most of the time. Gravity does its thing and before you know it certain muscles lengthen (get weaker) while others shorten (get tighter) in response to your “slouched-over” posture.

Basically the muscles that support and stabilize your pelvis and spine are compromised. This is the underlying cause of the majority of low-back pain issues.

Alright, so you’re supposed to go to a health club to exercise as part of your solution. There’s just one problem. You walk in and see row after row of machines and they all have one thing in common.

You perform the exercise while sitting down! What in the world? Tell me how something that helped to create your problem in the first place is now going to be suddenly part of the solution.

Low back pain is primarily caused by sitting down too much so we go to the gym and sit down some more while we exercise.

Who are we kidding? This doesn’t even come close to resembling how the human body was designed to move. Many of these machines can be downright harmful for individuals with low back pain or a wide variety of other issues caused by muscular imbalances.

For example, most individuals wanting to strengthen their core will go directly to the machine that you sit in and rotate at the waist or the one where you sit down and crunch forward. Both done with weighted resistance and both done while sitting down.

Tell me one time when either movement will ever be repeated in every day life? This should be a clue.



Your abdominal muscles are designed to stabilize your pelvis and spine. In everyday activities performed while on your feet the abdominal muscles work in integration with other muscles, never in isolation.

When you isolate the abdominals by sitting down and rotating or flexing from the waist the tight muscles (lumbar erectors, hip flexors, etc) only get tighter. The use of weighted movements during rotation or flexing from the waist while sitting down is a recipe for injury to the low back.

“Functional exercise” and “core training” have become buzz words in the fitness industry lately. When you think about it when did exercise stop being functional? Pressing a bar over your head, squatting, reaching or rotating while on your feet has always been a functional way to strengthen the core.

Your exercise should include reaching, rotating, squatting, pushing or pulling all done while on your feet (just like the way it happens in everyday life). Best of all functional exercise requires little or no equipment and can be completed anywhere, anytime, anyplace, even in the privacy of your own home.

Shane Doll is a certified personal trainer, fitness expert, author, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios. Learn more about how you can receive a no obligations FREE trial of his Charleston personal training programs and experience the Shaping Concepts difference for yourself.

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Category: Fitness Training.