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The Most Dangerous Fitness Trends of 2015


Apr. 2, 2015 Men's Health

About ten years ago, everyone raved about “barefooting”—running in shoes that mimic barefoot running. A good number of fitness-minded people did it, rebelling against padded, shock-absorbing sneakers and donning minimalist ones instead.

The claim of the barefooters: It’ll make your form and feet stronger, and reduce your risk of injury.

As it turns out, barefooting has the opposite effect: A 2013 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercisefound that runners who transitioned to minimalist shoes were more vulnerable to stress fractures in their feet than runners who continued to run with more support. A class action lawsuit followed, resulting in a multi-million dollar settlement against Vibram, one of the top manufacturers of minimalist shoes.

The barefoot running craze is dying down, but every year, a new crop of shortsighted fads flood the fitness marketplace. Most of them are innocuous—they won’t help, but they won’t hurt—but now and then, a potentially dangerous trend makes its way into the mainstream. So we went in search of this year’s offenders.

Going Crazy on Gymnastics Rings
Tune into the Reebok CrossFit Games on ESPN in July, and you’re sure to get a good dose of inspiration: absolutely jacked men and women firing off rep after rep of incredible exercises.

But leave the dips and muscleups on gymnastic rings to the Games competitors. A recent report published by the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine suggested that, among gymnastic movements, rings routines are the toughest on your shoulders. Dips, in particular, can easily put the joint in a position that can tear your rotator cuff.

“You get to a full, extreme end range of motion,” says Mike Reinold, owner of Champion PT and Performance, in Boston. That, he says, compromises your shoulder in multiple places.

Kipping Pullups
Another CrossFit staple that you should stay away from: kipping pullups. This version of the pullup—where you flip your body like a hooked fish to swing your chin over rings or a bar—allows you to log a ton of reps with less effort. But most trainers agree that the kip involves a lot of excessive movement in the legs and lower spine, and places unwanted forces on the shoulders.

Kips are also less effective at building strength since you use momentum (rather than muscle) throughout most of the move. Let the elite CrossFitters tackle the kipping pullup. After all, they’ve taken years to build a solid foundation of fitness, form, movement, and stability before attempting the feats you see them do on ESPN.

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