Friday, May 29, 2015 at 07:14PM
J Randall Short

"I won’t get hurt working out because I use machines instead of free weights." I hear this statement quite often from patients who have started weight training.

Many trainers of elite athletes believe machines can make you more susceptible to injury.

What? Don’t machines enhance stability during exercise? Yes, they stabilize you. Due to this stabilization, people fail to develop their own ability to stabilize. When using most weight machines, the muscles that stabilize our bodies are not utilized. Training in a one dimensional pattern with machines, leads to injury in a 3-dimensional world. Our bodies are meant to work in an integrated pattern. Isolating a muscle groups, as in a leg extension machine, will be useless when it comes to moving the refrigerator to clean behind it. The lack of stabilizing strength will cause the nervous system to limit the body’s ability to use its machine developed strength. The nervous system will sense an overload to your body’s stabilizing ability and shut your musculature down.

Most sports and everyday activities, such as lifting a load of laundry, picking up a bag of groceries, and starting a mower require strength and coordination in multiple planes of movement. Lifting on a single plane movement machine will increase susceptibility to injury in the other planes of movement. It would make sense to train, at least some of the time, asymmetrically. One of the best methods is the large exercise balls; sometimes called "Swiss balls". Performing exercises on these balls require the use of your stabilizing musculature. Muscle fibers are worked in multiple planes. Exercising on the unstable ball gives you greater stability and makes you less susceptible to injuries from falls and awkward lifting.

Do some sort of exercise every day. Make it a habit. The balls don’t take up a much room, they are extremely versatile, and the whole family can use them. Now, just do it!

Article originally appeared on Short Chiropractic (
See website for complete article licensing information.