Pertinent background info
Not too long ago I came across an article entitled something along the lines of “Top 10 Worst Fitness Exercises”. Burpees were at the top of the list. The article’s author referred to the move as “ineffective” and even “masochistic”. I let Google auto-fill a search for me and the results spoke likewise.
I don’t know about the “masochistic” labeling of the burpee. There is absolutely a difference between masochism and stoicism. In the mind of the do-er, at least. More on that later…
But there is some truth to these health concerns. Burpees, like any other repetition-based exercise, can cause problems over time, especially with beginners. To avoid problems I planned on not locking out at any portion of the movement, and keeping my weight square over my shoulders and away from my knees and ankles during the kick-back portion of the move.
That and a proper warm-up should in theory keep the do-er healthy while attempting them. Joe De Sena, the god-father of the burpee, practices as much, and from what I’ve seen also lays on his belly at the bottom of the movement. He once did 4,000 burpees continuously, so if the movement works for him physically, well, you and I should be okay in moderation.