You may have heard about the importance of core strength to help prevent back pain and make you less prone to injury.
It’s true, a strong core is essential to prevent many types of musculoskeletal pain and injury including lower back pain.
But the most common abdominal exercises can make your back pain worse. Learn which exercises to avoid and a couple of safer alternatives.
Hi, Dr. Joe Tichio here.
You may have heard about the importance of core strength to help prevent back pain and make you less prone to injury. It’s true, a strong core is essential to prevent many types of musculoskeletal pain and injury including lower back pain.
But the most common abdominal exercises can make your back pain worse.
If you suffer with chronic lower back pain or you have a lower back injury, this is really important.
Stop doing sit-ups, crunches and leg lifts. These exercises do more harm than good.
Let me explain why and then I’ll show you a couple of alternatives to strengthen your core safely.
Sit-ups and crunches curl your upper body forward into spinal flexion, which is the most damaging movement for your lower back.
It reinforces and may even amplify the slumped sitting posture.
These movements compress your spine and place pressure on your discs. This can lead to an increased risk of back disorders including bulging discs.
When it comes to bilateral, both legs at the same time, leg raises or lifts, research has shown that it causes even higher levels of spine compression than sit-ups.
So those moves are out, but now we need a safe and effective approach to training your abs.
Here are 2 safe options.
Bent Knee Leg Raise
Lie on your back keeping your head in line with your spine. Tighten your abdominal muscles and slowly lift your foot off the ground. Keep your knee bent and bring it toward your chest. Hold for 5 seconds. Slowly lower your leg back down. Be careful not to drop the leg, rather lower it under control. Perform 5 times for one leg, then switch and perform on the other side. Take a 30 second break and repeat 5 additional times per leg.
8 Point Plank – Modified Plank
In a regular plank, your body weight is supported by your hands and feet. In this modified version, your hands, elbows, knees, and feet will support your body weight. This will protect your lower back, while challenging your abdominal muscles.
Hold for 5-10 seconds, relax, repeat 5 times.
If you need more of a challenge, take a 30 second break and add an additional 5 times.
If you have back pain, it’s important to go slow and don’t train until failure. That’s why we are performing each movement for a 5-10 second hold, then giving it a break. As your back heals and you feel better you can move on to more intense training.
Remember if you’re not working with an expert be careful.
There is a lot of bad advice out there regarding exercise and back pain. If you’re not cautious you could end up making your problem worse.
I see this all the time. Sit-ups and crunches are just one example of many unsafe exercises that are often recommended to back pain sufferers.
What other exercises are you doing that may be making your back pain worse?
That’s why I created The Back Restoration System, it has helped thousands of people to get out of pain and back to life.
If you have any questions or want me to discuss a topic, please leave a comment below and I’ll either answer your question here or work it into a new video.
Have a great day.