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Why Not to Lock Your Joints During Exercise

You Asked: Why Avoid Locking?

You're asking and I'm answering.

"Fit, whenever I am reading about how to do a new exercise it almost always says, "Do not lock your knees," or elbows or whatever. Why is locking so bad?"
- Locked Lindsay

That's a very good question! Let me start with a little explanation. Locking your joints is when you are doing an exercise and you fully extend the limb until it can't straighten anymore — it sort of "locks" in place. The problem with locking your joints (knee, elbow, etc.) while lifting weights is that it places an enormous amount of stress on the joint and off the muscles, which can lead to joint problems and/or injury. Furthermore, since locking your joints gives your muscles a rest mid-movement, it makes for a far less effective exercise than if you kept a slight bend in your joints. I don't know about you, but I am looking to get the most out of my time at the gym so it is definitely wise to always keep a slight bend in the arms and legs.

I always like to use the jumping analogy. Would you ever jump up and land without bending your knees a little bit? No. Instinctively you bend them because it is the best way to deal with resistance and avoid injury. Think of this when trying to remind yourself not to lock them.

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nancita nancita 7 years
Yeah, good question...one of those things I always see and never think to ask "why?" about. Good to kno.
millarci millarci 7 years
I like your jumping out of bed analogy. It's a good way of reminding myself not to lock my knees. This was a really good question. I always wondered about this myself. Thanks for posting it!
ElectroPopTart ElectroPopTart 7 years
Again, bikram yoga emphasizes locking the knees more than the breathing...hmmmm.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 7 years
i know from experience that locking your knees, while holding heavy weight can make you loose your balance and fall on your arse. Another good reason not to lock your knees. :)
linb linb 7 years
I was in marching band in high school, and we were told that locking your knees can block the blood circulating back up to the heart/brain, which can make you pass out, especially in the heat.
gabiushka gabiushka 7 years
Great example!
gabiushka gabiushka 7 years
Great example!
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