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‘The Spine Pro’, Dr. Hooman Melamed, offers workout advice to avoid back injuries

He warns that improper form could likely lead to his professional services if fitness enthusiasts aren’t more careful. Daily exercise is always recommended, but when these routines are executed incorrectly, they can lead to some very negative heath issues on the spine.

Dr. Melamed says that our movements in the gym should be controlled and steady if we truly want to prevent physical injury. In fact, proper form can also build muscle mass and increase the heart rate at nearly double the rate. Breathing in and out with a natural rhythm to the weights is also a very good practice.

Here is some other valuable advice, geared toward specific exercises that are more commonly performed in the gym.


Southern Californians love to have a flat tummy, but bad form can actually slow progress and cause injury. Never jerk the body upwards with your hands clasped firmly behind the neck. Instead, cross the arms in front of your chest so that the hands are actually touching the shoulders. Keeping the feet stabilized is also good form, working the abdominals instead of applying torque and pressure to the back and neck.

Elliptical Machines

During his visit to the gym, Melamed witnessed more than one person reading a book or magazine while working out on the elliptical machines. This not only reduces the overall effectiveness of the workout because you are not performing at top capacity, but it also creates a swan-like effect to the neck as our chins project slightly forward in an attempt to read the book or magazine. This can cause pinch nerves in the spine and neck. Try standing upright without holding on to the handrails for optimal results.

Bench Presses

Arching the back when bench pressing can easily occur as we begin to tire, but this can actually lead to torn back muscles at the base of the spine. These tears can take years to heal. Raising the legs to a tabletop position is a healthier alternative. Bouncing the barbell on the chest is also considered poor form. If you can’t perform 15 reps smoothly and with control, then you are likely using too much weight.

Bicep Curls

Even the bending or stooping to pick up the dumbbells from the rack can cause injury. Be careful to keep your back straight at all times if you want to avoid injury. Dr. Melamed also recommends keeping one foot slightly forward with the knees somewhat bent when performing the bicep curl repetitions. This relaxes the back muscles and relieves any potential negative pressure that might be unintentionally placed on the spine. Avoid jerking motions, keeping the palms raised, the knuckles forward, and the elbows remaining still by your sides at all times.