I've just recently begun to strength train and do cardio at least 3-4 times a week just to stay healthy and fit. Every time I do sit-ups I get a lower back ache. Am I doing something wrong or will the aches go away once I really start building the abdominal muscle?
Also does any one have any other abdominal exercise suggestions other than your typical crunches and sit-ups?
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
-- Isaiah 40:30-31
Make sure when you perform your situps that you have your abs pulled at 30% out of 100% at all times. If you don't, you aren't supporting your multifidus muscles in your back. Lift your chest towards the ceiling w/o pulling on your neck. Think of elongating your spine.
certified personal trainer
Also, regular situps (you know, the ones where you lock your feet under something while lying on the floor) will hurt your lower back no matter how you do them. You might be better off doing crunches and leg lifts, comnined with some oblique work. Even hanging from a chin up bar doing leg lifts will be better for your back.
Strengthening the lower back should help too. So will gentle stretching...an often over looked aspect of fitness. I have totally eliminated pain on one side of my lower back by following a regimen of stretching done over the stability ball each morning. I'm a personal trainer, also, and I work primarily with the 50+ population. We do what is called a 'standing crunch'. It goes like this: bend over slightly at the waist, placing hands firmly on thighs with finger tips just touching the tops of knees. Strongly pull in your abs and while firmly pressing down with your hands on your thighs, come to an upright position. Return to original position, keeping abs pulled in at all times. One more thing...don't forget to breathe! 2 sets of 12 to 15 reps are recommended. This is a safe alternative to the lying sit up or crunch for any age to try.
checkout pavel tsatsoulines power breathing or beyond crunches to learn how to properly contract your abdominal region. You may be using too much of your hip flexors and not enough abs (hint contract your hamstrings and hiss out air as you contract (crunch).
His information is excellent
CSCS, RKC,. MA Exercise Physiology
Sharise, Within the 'fitness' profession, we have known for about 15 years that we should NOT be performing the old, full sit-ups due to low back injury. Also, we realized we were primarily using our hip flexors rather than our abdominal muscle to perform the full sit-up.
During the past 5-8 years we have been obsessed with our abs. We want to see a six pack. Unfortunately, we neglect the rest of the 'core'(the other 28-32 muscle within the core)especially the low back area. You ask the question, "Also, does anyone have any other abdominal exercise suggestions other than your typical crunches......" There are many exercises to recommend. However, some are beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The gentleman who posted the previous message, for instance, recommended techniques developed in the Soviet Union during the 60's, power breathing. This is a VERY advanced method of training, to be utilized by only the most conditioned athlete. Also, this method should never be recommended to anyone who has high blood pressure or any heart conditions. I learned this technique 10 years ago, and as a personal trainer I have never shared it with any of my clients. I use the technique regularly, however, I am conditioned and hold a world record for sit-ups. I would be happy to recommend exercises if you would share with me your age, height, weight. Have you had a check-up, lately? I also strongly suggest you create specific goals and work on those.
Skip Chase, CPT
Guinness World Record Holder
'Most Sit-ups, 24 Hours, Abdominal frame'
110,912-Jan 8th-9th, 2004
World Class Fitness, Inc.
By the way, there is one technique you may begin regardless of your condition. It is simple....basically called the 'drawing in maneuver'. Regardless of what you are doing, you may practice...pull your belly button in, toward your spine. A starting goal may be to hold it in for 30 seconds. You can perform this exercise any time; while standing, walking, driving,watching TV...I am doing now while sitting at the computer. At first, you may have to put one figure on your belly button, to help create the 'neuromuscular connection', to train the central nervous system to activate the TVA, transversus abdominus. If you stand in front of a mirror, sideways, and stand naturally, observe how far forward your 'abs' stick out. Practice the 'drawing in maneuver' as many times as possible for one month. At the end of the month, go back to the mirror. Stand sideways and you will see a marked improvement.
I just started core training Had a L-4 to S-1 failed Fusion done in 2002 have had back and leg pain ever since. Gained over 40 lbs from laying around saying the pain would not let me do anything.Got mad and joined gym with personal trainer. Only been one week and I feel so much better been walking treadmill 6X week can not do any thing that will bend me forward past a certain point. Do not do sit-ups at all and never will puts to much strain on low back even in people with healthy backs.
Anyone been where am at or knows any one that is would love to here from you.
Thanks Bob M
PILATES is absolutely the way to go!! It has made all the difference with my running and swimming...Also I have not had the slightest bit of back pain since I started almost one year ago. Make sure you have a great instructor though. One who is very "militant" about making sure your body mechanics are correct all the time.
Give it a try...
How about going strait to the problem, your low back. Every one would be suprised at how weak thoes muscles are because we have hips that do all the bending and lifting. It is very difficult to isolate these muscles. Solution, check out medxonline.com, for a location/clinic near you or if your in the Denver or CO Springs area americasback.com may be the best bet for your dollar. The Lumbar Extention Machine just maybe the only to take your hips out of the equation and isolate the muscles in the low back.
As someone with a weak core - especially lower back and abs, I find the following ab exercises to be best for me: 1) Laying on your back hold a large fitness ball between your feet, arms straight back over your head. Lift your feet and pass the ball to your hands, lower all limbs to the floor, then pass it back to your feet. Repeat. 2) Using dumbells & laying on your back, stretch one leg out. With the opposite arm, do a tricep curl at the same time. 3) Hover! Place toes and forearms on the floor and keep your body flat, butt down.
I've found these help strengthen without hurting my back!
I agree with previous posts: you have to strengthen the core (specifically TVA) and lower back muscles. your "abs" are actually very small muscles in relation to the rest of your core, and shouldn't be isolated with sit-ups. When I was recovering from a bad snowboard accident that messed up my back, a stability ball made all the difference for recovery! example: lower back extensions on the ball (rest your lower stomach on the ball, feet lightly braced against a wall, and raise your body like a reverse crunch.) Also, crunches on the ball are a great way to challenge your core while strengthening your abs; do twisting crunches to use your obliques as well. Check out maximumcore.com for simple ball and core exercises.
Back pain is something many people complain about with traditional ab work, mainly resulting from doing advanced abdominal exercises that focus mainly on the 'outer unit' (your most superficial abdominal muscles like the rectus abdominus, the six pack muscle) before strengthening the 'innner unit' (your core muscles such as the transversus abdominus and internal obliques). Have an experienced, NASM trainer do a biomechanical evaluation or overhead squat test on you, and they will probably find that your pelvis naturally tilts forward just a bit, from tight hip flexors and quads and a weak core and glute muscles. Do you have a desk job? This problem is commonly seen in people that sit for most hours of the day, which chronically tightens certain muscles and causes the imbalances that i mentioned. I would see someone about starting a flexibility program along with a beginning core workout to address the problem instead of working around it. You will be exercising more safely in the long run, and your exercises will be much more effective! Please contact me if you have any more questions, i would be glad to help! N. Mar CPT,CSCS
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