Why Does My Back Hurt? I do 100 Sit-Ups a Day!

abdominal-sit-up-exerciseDo you get lower back pain when you do sit-ups at gym or home? This is a common complaint with low back pain sufferers and seems to go against our everyday understanding of having ‘strong abs’ equals a strong back.

Whether it is cosmetic, or to protect the back, we all want better, stronger, flatter abdominals…but what is going wrong? Find out today how to do a back friendly sit-up.

Back Friendly Sit-ups

The common fault with the ‘abdominal crunch’ or ‘sit-up’ exercise is the increased pressure it places on the spinal discs of the lower back. If you add in the factor of performing the task first thing in the morning; the spine may not be warmed up enough and the discs are more vulnerable as they are normally more swollen in the morning due to sleeping recumbent.

So What Else Can We Do?

This is where we begin preaching the understanding of core-stabilization. And, yes, the best place to start is seeing a Biokineticist or visiting your local Pilates studio. But here is one exercise you can start with at home and begin your awareness of your deep, core abdominal muscles to begin your journey to a healthy, stabilized back.

The New Abs Workout

This is the “New Abs” rehabilitation exercise as designed by Craig Liebenson and Petra Valouchova in the Journal of Body Work and Movement Therapies.

You can download the New Abs Workout sheet with the pictures here.

New Abs Procedure:

1. Lie on your back with your head about one foot from the wall.

(If necessary put a small pillow or towel under your head to provide support)

2. Put your arms above your head, keeping your elbows bent, place your palms on the wall.

3. Slowly, lift one leg at a time, until both legs are up in the air, with your knees bent.

4. Next, push your palms into the wall, without actually moving your body away.

You should instantly feel your abs tighten in the front and sides and your back muscles contracting.

-You should notice how your lower rib cage moves down towards your waist.

5. Whilst pushing away from the wall and feeling the contraction of your abs, maintain a normal breathing pattern. DO NOT hold your breath or breathe vigorously.

6. Finally, whilst combining the pushing away from the wall, feeling the abs contract, and breathing normally, slowly move one leg at a time and tap the floor with the heel.

Perform this 8-12 times on each heel. Do 2-3 sets of this, 1-2 times a day.