Preventing Rotator Cuff Injuries at they Gym: Free Weights versus Machines

by Jsantos, June 6, 2014

Preventing Rotator Cuff Injuries at they Gym: Free Weights versus Machines

Weight training should always be part of an exercise regime. It doesn’t matter how old you are, the advantages of a good plan with a proper nutrition program will impact your health in a positive way. This is why in our orthopedic corner, we are always giving you tips and information on how to eat and train well. No matter if you are at your best or recovering from an injury, this information will give you a set of tools to move in the right direction.

Today, we will be talking about the advantages and disadvantages  of free weights versus machines. A lot of orthopedic trauma injuries like rotator cuff tears happen due to malpractices at the gym. We encourage to learn more about these tools so you can properly use them during your exercise sessions.

Advantages of Free Weights

  • Dumbbells and barbells are more effective in developing the smaller synergistic muscles and stabilizer muscles.
  • Free weight exercises more closely match the neurological patterns of associated sports skills from a biomechanical point of view, because of joint kinesthesis, leverage similarities and bodily involvement.
  • Barbell and dumbbells are more versatile and take up less space.
  • Greater overall strength can be achieved using barbell and dumbbells.
  • Power is improved more efficiently and to a greater extent through the use of free weights.
  • Other aspects of fitness, including size, flexibility, reduced body fat and muscle toning are achieved more efficiently through the use of free weights.

Disadvantages of Free Weights

  • Barbell and dumbbells that are adjustable come apart if care is not taken to tightly secure the collars, increasing the probabilities of an injury during a training session.
  • Adjustment in weight from set to set requires affixing or removing plates and replacing and removing collars.
  • In certain exercises, it is difficult to derive maximum isolation of a muscle or muscle group.

Advantages of Machines

  • Some machines are more efficient in isolating a muscle or muscle group for more efficient overload.
  • For group use, some machines are more efficient in terms of space utilization.
  • Machines are easier to use, and therefore faster workouts are possible.
  • Machines are safer compare to free weights minimizing the risk of an injury
  • Machines can complement free weights very efficiently when performing exhaustion cycles without elevating failure risks.

Disadvantages of Machines

  • Most machines require moving weights along a path, making it complicated to derive synergistic or stabilizer muscle strength.
  • Machines that control movement velocity or vary the resistance over a given moment have removed the natural aspect from the exercise.
  • Machines are built for average people. Therefore, they may not be suitable for short and/or tall people.



Orthopedic Corner | Leon Mead MD Orthopedic Doctor | 730 Goodlette Road North, Suite 201  Naples Florida 34102 | Phone: (239) 262-1119

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