Now, picture someone lifting incorrectly, bending their back instead of their knees, then flip them on their back and have them do the same motion. When we do a crunch we are doing the same movement as when lifting incorrectly- repetitive spinal flexion against a load. The load in the case of a crunch is the weight of the upper body multiplied by the force of gravity.
Many folks continue to crunch with no sign of back pain. Why? Not all discs are created equal. Some can handle more damaging movements before they break down to the point of causing pain. However, pain or not, if you are doing crunches or sit-ups, then you are definitely increasing the pressure inside your discs and that is contributing to disc breakdown.
As for that 6-pack? Everyone has the anatomy, the rectus abdominus muscle, for a 6 pack. Shedding extra abdominal fat via cardiovascular exercise, resistance training, and a clean diet is the best way to uncover it. If it is a strong “core” you seek, core muscles actually function to hold our torso still, while our arms and legs are moving, not the other way around, as with the crunch.
Your chiropractor can show you the safest “core” exercises for your back, but a basic exercise that is safe for most backs is the plank hold. Lay on your stomach on the floor, brace your abdominal muscles as though you are about to be punched in the stomach and then back off that brace until you are contracting your abdominals at about 10-15% of your maximum ability. Now, lift your torso so that you are balancing on your elbows and your toes, as in the picture provided. Make sure you keep your hips in line with your spine, so that your body looks like a plank of wood from the side. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat up to 20 times. Gradually increase the length of time you hold the plank to 30 seconds to make the exercise harder.
For more information on a safe and effective exercise program for you, please call the office 1-902-404-3668 and one of our chiropractic doctors will be happy to design and teach you the right exercises for your back.