Fitness Myths: Get the Facts (cont.)
Fitness Myth No. 5: Yoga can help with all sorts of back pain.
The truth is that yoga can help with back pain, but it's not equally good for all types.
"If your back pain is muscle-related, then yes, the yoga stretches and some of the positions can help. It can also help build a stronger core, which for many people is the answer to lower back pain," says Schlifstein.
But if your back problems are related other problems (such as a ruptured disc) yoga is not likely to help, he says. What's more, it could actually irritate the injury and cause you more pain.
If you do have back pain, get your doctor's OK before starting any type of exercise program.
Fitness Myth No. 6: If you're not working up a sweat, you're not working hard enough.
"Sweating is not necessarily an indicator of exertion," says Tyne. "Sweating is your body's way of cooling itself."
It's possible to burn a significant number of calories without breaking a sweat: Try taking a walk or doing some light weight training.
Fitness Myth No. 7: As long as you feel OK when you're working out, you're probably not overdoing it.
One of the biggest mistakes people tend to make when starting or returning to an exercise program is doing too much too soon. The reason we do that, says Schlifstein, is because we feel OK while we are working out.
"You don't really feel the overdoing it part until a day or two later," he says.
No matter how good you feel when you return to an activity after an absence, Schlifstein says you should never try to duplicate how much or how hard you worked in the past. Even if you don't feel it at the moment, you'll feel it in time, he says -- and it could take you back out of the game again.
Fitness Myth No. 8: Machines are a safer way to exercise because you're doing it right every time.
Although it may seem as if an exercise machine automatically puts your body in the right position and helps you do all the movements correctly, that's only true if the machine is properly adjusted for your weight and height, experts say.
"Unless you have a coach or a trainer or someone figure out what is the right setting for you, you can make just as many mistakes in form and function, and have just as high a risk of injury, on a machine as if you work out with free weights or do any other type of nonmachine workout," says Schlifstein.
Fitness Myth No. 9: When it comes to working out, you've got to feel some pain if you're going to gain any benefits.
Of all the fitness rumors ever to have surfaced, experts agree that the "no pain-no gain" holds the most potential for harm.
While you should expect to have some degree of soreness a day or two after working out, Schlifstein says, that's very different from feeling pain while you are working out.
"A fitness activity should not hurt while you are doing it, and if it does, then either you are doing it wrong, or you already have an injury," he says.
As for "working through the pain," experts don't advise it. They say that if it hurts, stop, rest, and see if the pain goes away. If it doesn't go away, or if it begins again or increases after you start to work out, Schlifstein says, see a doctor.
Publishe August 9, 2007.
SOURCES: Eric Harr, professional triathlete; personal coach; fitness journalist, CBS Morning News; author, The Portable Personal Trainer, San Francisco. Todd Schlifstein, DO, clinical instructor, NYU Medical Center's Rusk Institute, New York. Phil Tyne, director, Baylor Tom Landry Health & Wellness Center, Dallas.
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