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Why the Push-Up is Bad for You!

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

When people are just starting either a yoga program or a fitness program the push up position can be very hard on the wrists, shoulders, neck and low back. When people start in the setup of the high plank or high push up position they may have the strength for the static setup but when it’s time to descend they may lose that stability and do full body sag.

This sag at the shoulder places extra stress or the extra load to the wrists, passive structures of the shoulder, the neck and low back. This person is not able to either engage the peripheral core or is not able to maintain the contraction of the muscles of the peripheral core for stability.

What is the peripheral core? This is the larger muscles of the upper back and one of their jobs is to create stability for the shoulder and the shoulder blade. These muscles are the rhomboids, mid and lower trapezius, latissimus dorsi and anterior serratus. These muscles are typically inhibited for a lot of people and especially woman and why I spend so much time teaching spreading the mat with the hands or feet. That video is coming.

The hips will also typically start to sag which will shift even more load into the wrists, shoulders, the neck and now the low back. Several reasons why. One could be because of the lack of strength of the peripheral core, central core and Glute Max. The other reason is they were taught to have a lower hip shoulder line. Is this lower hip shoulder line bad? Not if you have the strength in the peripheral core, central core and glute max to be able to stabilize your joints and the spine. Most people in the beginning do not. It takes a lot of focus, patience and practice to be able to develop the proper strength.So many people drop the head on descent of the hi-low plank.

The neck takes a beating because dropping the head increases the shoulder shrug. Your head is 8% of your body weight which is approximately 10 pounds (give or take a few pounds). When you are not able to stabilize your head with your neck extensors and peripheral core you are basically doing your hi-low chaturanga with your upper traps and wrists. This encourages the development of a dowager’s hump and a forward head posture because of the lack of strength of the neck flexors and the neck extensors. The high to low chaturanga and or push up one-of the best full body exercises out there when done properly. You will tear apart your body when done improperly.

A lot of my one-on-one sessions are to clear out the dysfunctions from poor form using P-DTR and then correcting the form with strength and conditioning strategies that do apply in yoga and flexibility strategies if they apply.

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