Workouts you want to avoid in 2014

Herewith, a handful of hot fitness fads that have overstayed their welcome for one reason or another. Maybe they’ve caused too many injuries. Maybe they’re just too silly to deal with anymore. Whatever the reason, we’d love to say goodbye to these wacky fitness fads in 2014.

Pole dancing. Yes, it takes skill, balance and coordination to spin around a pole upside down. And sure, it’s probably a heck of a workout. But aside from the fact that you’re expected to perform this “sport” in your underwear, pole dancing is risky (in some cases, devastatingly so). Pole dance forums regularly allude to bumps, bruises, cracked ribs and broken toes, says Dr. Ryan Stanton, a Lexington, Ky., emergency room doctors. That’s just the start, says Stanton, who’s also seen back, ankle and wrist injuries. “The majority of injuries are associated with falls,” he says. “And there’s also a risk of skin infections like strep and staph if the pole hasn’t been adequately sterilized.” Eww.

Stiletto workouts. Fans of this “fitness” fad say working out in sky-high heels can strengthen your core, improve your balance and give you toned, taut legs. But Neal Pire, an exercise physiologist and fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, call this fitness craze — dubbed the “the world’s worst workout” by Prevention Magazine — unnatural. “When you wear high heels, you’re shortening your Achilles tendon, throwing off your center of gravity and putting stress on your lower back. And then there’s what happens in your feet.” ER doc Stanton is more blunt: “Anything in stilettos is an ankle injury waiting to happen,” he says.

Yoga mash-ups. “Yoga’s not good enough on its own any more,” says Stanton, a spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians or ACEP. “Now you have to turn up the temperature or do it on a paddleboard.” Or do it naked while suspended from the ceiling in a white “anti-gravity” bundle. Aside from being just plain silly, some of these yoga mash-ups can be risky. Stanton says he’s treated people who’ve passed out in hot yoga classes and warns that the practice can be dangerous for people with heart disease.

MOB races. “Mud, obstacle and beer” endurance challenges like the Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash have inspired many a couch potato to get off their duff — at least for the weekend. But it doesn’t come without a cost. A study by the ACEP found that a single competition last June resulted in 38 ER visits for everything from chest pain to dislocated shoulders to head and face injuries to electrical burns to paralysis. Even worse, there have been a handful of deaths. “This is a really high risk activity,” says Stanton. “People train for marathons but Tough Mudders attract people who have no intention of training — they just want to get out and run in the mud. It’s risky enough for the person in good shape, much less someone who hasn’t run 3 miles in the last year.”

By Diane Mapes
TODAY contributor

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