Weight lifting can be confusing. We are all guilty of performing exercises that we see the musclemen and women in the gym doing. We usually think, “if they’re doing it and look like that, it must be good, right?” Wrong! One of the most common exercises that is incorrectly performed is the lat pull down.
Never perform a lat pull down behind your head or neck. This places undue stress on your neck joints and muscles and can lead to rotator cuff injuries. This exercise is meant to strengthen the Latissimus Dorsi muscles. These muscles are responsible for internally rotating, adducting, and extending the shoulder. They are an important stabilizer of the shoulder and assist in stabilizing the spine as well.
Working eight or more hours a day leaves little time for some of us to exercise. An easy way to safely and effectively strengthen these muscles at work is to sit on a chair or table with rolled up towels beside your hips (the arms of your chair can also work in a pinch). Keeping your body erect, press downward, straightening your elbows and lifting your buttocks out of your chair. This also helps to counteract the forces that the powerful Upper Trapezius muscles can place on our shoulders and neck. The upper traps or “stress muscles” tend to get tight from lots of time spent in front of a computer. If you can’t do this exercise, then hit the gym… just keep that bar in front of your body!