Exercising Safely

Exercising is good for you. It builds cardiovascular health and helps you stay able to do the things you want to do.

However, exercising too much or the wrong way, can quickly become bad for you. It can cause pain, inflammation and possibly damage joints.

If It Hurts – Don’t Do It!

The first rule is if something is giving you pain, don’t do it. If you are exercising muscle you haven’t used much lately, they will likely ache some the next day. This is normal. But if you have pain, this is your body’s way of letting you know you are doing something bad to it. Stop! Continuing to do something that is causing you pain will only continue to make the pain, and any damage to your body, worse.

Pull, Don’t Push

Exercises that work you muscles while you are pulling your arm or leg toward the body are less likely to cause damage than exercises that have you pushing away from your body. Our experienced physical therapists can help develop exercises that are right for you.

Starting to Exercise

If you haven’t done much exercise in awhile, it is best to start slowly. You should check with your doctor to make sure what you plan to do is suitable for your level of health.

When you begin, take it easy for the first two weeks. During this time, your body begins to adjust to the new routine. Pushing too hard, too fast will not allow this adjustment to occur and you are likely to experience pain and stop working out.

You should not work out more than every other day. Too much exercise can be too much of a good thing.

Always remember that exercise should not hurt. If it does, stop doing it!

Simple Exercise Regimen

Below is a simple set of exercises that will give you a complete workout safely and quickly. This will not give you a body builder physique, but it will give you a good cardio workout and tone up your main muscle groups.

Elliptical machine – In our opinion, this exercise machine is the better than bikes, treadmills, and other equipment for giving you a good cardio workout without hurting your knees. To get a good workout on an elliptical, do the following things:

  1. If the machine has arms that move, don’t use the arms.
  2. Instead, lean forward 30 to 40 degrees. You can hold onto the front of the machine to stay in this position. This position unloads the quadriceps muscles and relieves the pressure on your kneecaps.
  3. Use low resistance and pedal as fast as you can, enough to reach a good cardio level. The actual cycles per minute will vary depending on the machine and your fitness level.
  4. Get your heart rate up. This usually means 130 or more beats per minute. However, you should check with your doctor and make sure the range you are targeting is healthy for you.
  5. When you first start using an elliptical, do 3 minutes at a slow rate to warm up and then 5 minutes at the fast speed.
  6. Add 1 minute at the fast speed every time you exercise. If you exercise every other day, this means that in 3 weeks, you will be up to about 15 minutes at the fast speed each time.
  7. Once you have worked up to it, each time you exercise w arm up about 3 minutes at the slower rate, then do 15 to 20 minutes at the fast speed.

Stomach crunches – This exercise will tighten your core muscles and help prevent lower back pain.

  1. Lay on your back on the floor
  2. Put your feet in the air with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. You can rest your legs on the seat of a chair to help hold them in this position.
  3. Put your hands behind your head with your elbows straight out at the sides.
  4. Lift your upper body from the ground. Twist at the waist and reach your left elbow toward your right knee. Keep your butt on the ground. Do the work with your stomach and waist muscles.
  5. When you start, you probably will not be able to touch your elbow to your knee. Eventually, you will increase your strength and flexibility so that you will be able to touch your elbow to knee.
  6. Lie back down.
  7. Repeat on the other side, trying to reach your right elbow to your left knee.
  8. Lie back down. You have now completed one rep.
  9. Start by doing one set of 10 reps for warmup.
  10. Do a second set of 10 reps.
  11. Increase the number of reps over time until you can do 50 reps for the warmup set and 150 reps for the second set.

Lateral pull down – For this you need a weight machine that has a long bar that you can pull downward with weights on the other end of a pulley.

  1. Sit under the bar. The bar should be positioned in front of you, not behind you. Reach up and grab the bar so your hands are shoulder width apart.
  2. Pull the bar downward smoothly until your hands are mid-chest.
  3. Control the bar as you allow it to go up again.
  4. Warm up with as set of 10 pull downs with a light amount of weight.
  5. Then do one set of 20 to 25 reps with the heaviest weight you can handle and still complete the 20 reps.
  6. Using the same weight, do one more set of 15 reps.
  7. As you get stronger, you can increase the weight for sets 2 and 3.

Bench Press – It is very important while doing this exercise that your elbows do not go way below the level of your body. This is a push instead of a pull exercise, so be careful not to use too much weight.

  1. Lie on your back on a bench.
  2. Hold a bar with weights in front of your chest with your hands shoulder width apart, elbows at your sides.
  3. Push the bar smoothly away from your body, straigtening your arms.
  4. Control the bar as you allow it to come back down toward your body. Keep you elbows close to your sides as you bend them. Your elbows may end up slightly lower than your chest, but do not allow them to go way behind your body. You can put a towel on your chest to help prevent your elbows from going too far back.
  5. Do a warm up set of 10 repetitions with a light amount of weight.
  6. Do a set of 20-25 reps at the heaviest weight you can handle and still complete the full set.
  7. Do a third set of 15 reps with the same amount of weight.

Bench Press Good Position Bench Press Bad Position

Bent Over RowBent Over Row - This exercise builds the muscles in the back of your shoulder.

  1. Stand with your legs shoulder width apart. Bend over 90 degrees at the waist. You can use one hand to support yourself on the seat of a chair or tabletop. Let the other hand dangle straight down holding a hand weight.
  2. Bend your elbow and pull your arm toward you. Your elbow should end up along your side with the weight below it. Do not bring your hand to the center of your chest.
  3. Control the movement as you extend the arm back out.
  4. Start with a warm up set of 10 repetitions with a light weight.
  5. Do a set of 20 to 25 repetitions with the heaviest weight you can handle and still complete the set.
  6. Do a third set of 15 repetitions with the same amount of weight .

  • American Academy of Regenerative Medicine
  • American Board of Regenerative Medicine
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  • Rush University Medical Center
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