Crunches are bad for your back

By |December 17th, 2017|media|Comments Off on Crunches are bad for your back

Crunches are bad for your back

“Any repetitive exercise, with or without load, where the lumbar spine is allowed to flex, round, or flatten, will over-stress the discs and ligaments.”    

                      Stuart McGill, a professor of spine bio-mechanics at the University of Waterloo, Canada.

Crunches and sit-ups involve lying on your back and repeatedly bending and extending your spine. Any forward bending motion of the torso such as sit-ups, crunches, rope pull-down crunches, toes to bar, knee to elbows, roll downs or touch our toes causes a significant increase in lower back intradiscal pressure.  No matter how strong your core is, if repetitive bending (lumbar flexion) is done enough times then the posterior lower back disc fibers become overstretched, strained, weaken and gradually tear which can result in chronic low back pain, or even disc prolapses.

Don’t think because it doesn’t hurt yet it is O.K. to do crunches.  Each of your spinal discs is only able to support a limited number of bending motions over the course of your lifetime. Does it make sense to perform exercises that can create common back injuries? The fact is, our abdominal muscles are not designed for large length change, or to help us flex our torso hundreds if not thousands of times. When doing any movement athletic or otherwise, the muscles of the spine, are designed to create spinal stability and help maintain a natural lordosis concave arch in the lumbar spine in order to protect it. The abdominal muscles in no way can raise the legs. The abdominal muscles purely stabilize the torso while the iliopsoas and rectus femoris raise the legs.

The best way to train work your torso is to do movements that challenge the muscles […]