How do I prevent mid back strain when I do situps?

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    Apr 16, 2009 5:14 PM GMT
    Hey guys, I've been having a problem the last year or so with my mid and lower back muscles straining whenever I do situps. It never used to be a problem but now is. I can get about 30 situps in before I have to stop because my back muscles are screaming at me.

    When I do situps, my back and feet are flat on the floor with my knees bent. I crunch just enough to get my head and shoulders off the ground, a technique I learned years ago in martial arts.

    What am I doing wrong? I don't have any back injuries or issues with my mid and lower back. Do I need to start excercising my mid and lower back more often? Or would that make things worse? Any advise would help. Thanks!
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    Apr 16, 2009 5:52 PM GMT
    Try doing your sit ups lying on top of a bosu ball. It will support the curve of your back and give you greater range of flexion.

    bosuball.jpg

    and try using an ab wheel....it is great for core exercising and one only costs about $10. I find using it after pull ups helps with pain in the back.

    ... notice there is a bosu ball behind the man in this vid.

    When you get really good, you can do it standing up...

    ... ok, I just put this in for the beefcake... icon_wink.gif
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    Apr 16, 2009 10:35 PM GMT
    Forward flexion places significant stress on the spine. When you barely lift the head and shoulders off the floor less stress is placed on the spine. The explantion is that the rectus abdominis only lifts the shoulders off the floor 30 degrees. After that, the motion is completed by the hip flexors. When the hip flexors are activated they cause anterior pelvic tilt. The spinal curvature increases resulting in pain and possible injury. Having someone hold your ankles also increases the stress on the spine. If you have a desk job leaning over a computer all day, your spine is already stressed out. Doing forward flexion exercises only worsens the problem. Spinal stress is increased by tight hamstrings, piriformis, psoas major and the gluteal muscles of the buttocks. One of the ways to get around this is to increase flexibility of the core. Pilates and yoga are helpful. I found the the DVD "Yoga and Pilates Workouts for Dummies" to be helpful. You can get a copy at Amazon.
    Also doing crunches on a exercise ball adds extension to the exercise which is therapeutic for back pain.
    If you don;t want to go the Pilates or Yoga route, here is a link that lists stretching exercises to improve spine health
    http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/exercise/stretching-back-pain-relief .
    I follow a combination of Pilates, exercise ball, and stretching. On a good day I'm now able to do fifty incline crunches without back pain.


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    Apr 16, 2009 10:39 PM GMT
    May I suggest

    Give the ab crunches a rest for 4 to 6 weeks

    Do other core strengthening exercises

    Strengthen the lower back muscles - dead life, cobra on the floor and on the Swill ball

    Stretch your lower back for 30 secs after each workout.

    Hope this helps


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    Apr 16, 2009 10:45 PM GMT
    Are you consciously rotating your hips towards your head forcing the lower back into the mat and holding the lower back against the mat during the crunch?
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    Apr 17, 2009 12:55 AM GMT
    muchmorethanmuscle saidThis looks like fun and this guy looks hot when sprawled out over the floor like he does here. icon_smile.gif




    I love the way that he weakens towards the end, perfect time to pounce......ooh sorry..

    eh hum...

    Yeah perhaps the thing is to try other abs work and stretch. We have a version of the sit up in pilates (well two). With abdominal work number of reps doesn´t mean a great deal, you really have to work the core, pull the stomach in towards the spine. Abs wheel looks fun. I´m gonna try that
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    Apr 17, 2009 1:11 AM GMT
    yogasea saidHey guys, I've been having a problem the last year or so with my mid and lower back muscles straining whenever I do situps. It never used to be a problem but now is. I can get about 30 situps in before I have to stop because my back muscles are screaming at me.

    When I do situps, my back and feet are flat on the floor with my knees bent. I crunch just enough to get my head and shoulders off the ground, a technique I learned years ago in martial arts.

    What am I doing wrong? I don't have any back injuries or issues with my mid and lower back. Do I need to start excercising my mid and lower back more often? Or would that make things worse? Any advise would help. Thanks!


    Go see a trainer who knows what he's / she's doing.

    Sounds like you're having erector spasms. It can be a real drag. You probably need to work the antagonist group (your back), and stretch to get it cleared up.

    Likely you've got an imbalance going.

    I have very THICK erector muscles from doing deadlifts for 30 years. If I don't work my abs, hard, under load, including situps (yes, I know), my low back squawks at me big time. You have to have balance.

    Start working your back. Eat. Get yourself into balance. Doing strange, esoteric, exercises is NOT going to fix it. Get the balance, and, unless you have a genetic defect, things will clear right up.

    Think agonist, antagonist, when you train.
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    Apr 17, 2009 1:20 AM GMT
    kneedraggen saidForward flexion places significant stress on the spine. When you barely lift the head and shoulders off the floor less stress is placed on the spine. The explantion is that the rectus abdominis only lifts the shoulders off the floor 30 degrees. After that, the motion is completed by the hip flexors. When the hip flexors are activated they cause anterior pelvic tilt. The spinal curvature increases resulting in pain and possible injury. Having someone hold your ankles also increases the stress on the spine. If you have a desk job leaning over a computer all day, your spine is already stressed out. Doing forward flexion exercises only worsens the problem. Spinal stress is increased by tight hamstrings, piriformis, psoas major and the gluteal muscles of the buttocks. One of the ways to get around this is to increase flexibility of the core. Pilates and yoga are helpful. I found the the DVD "Yoga and Pilates Workouts for Dummies" to be helpful. You can get a copy at Amazon.
    Also doing crunches on a exercise ball adds extension to the exercise which is therapeutic for back pain.
    If you don;t want to go the Pilates or Yoga route, here is a link that lists stretching exercises to improve spine health
    http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/exercise/stretching-back-pain-relief .
    I follow a combination of Pilates, exercise ball, and stretching. On a good day I'm now able to do fifty incline crunches without back pain.




    If I don't stretch my hamstrings, do situps, and work abs in general, including obliques, I get erector spams nasty bad. It sucks. It can bring my workouts to a screeching halt, and has more than once.

    I keep saying I'm going to do the pilates class and always end up late on Saturday night.

    I used to be able to stiff leg deadlift 315, and since this last year or so, where I've not worked my abs as much, on the advice of a trainer, I've dealt with back pain.

    Almost certainly from the original poster above, something is weak, tight, or out of balance.

    He's pretty small and likely needs to eat, and work his back to bring it up to speed.
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    Apr 18, 2009 9:32 PM GMT
    Thanks for all the information! I think working out my back more and stretching often (and yes, eating, *grins*) is something that I will need to focus on. I carry my stress in my lower back and neck, so stretching is clearly beneficial. And I've seen those bosu ball things at my gym but I've only seen people use them to stand on while using weights and such. I'll definitely give it a try this afternoon! The ab wheel is something that I'll probably graduate to once I find more balance in my core.
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    Apr 18, 2009 10:44 PM GMT
    As your abs increase in strength, hold a weight plate behind your head to increase the effort of sitting up.

    You can use an exercise ball as shown at the bottom of this page for an intermediate stage in core development...

    ab_wheel.jpg


    This page is from...

    anatomy_of_exercise.jpg
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 19, 2009 5:12 PM GMT
    awesome info and reference material. ty
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    Apr 20, 2009 1:54 PM GMT

    'Anatomy of Exercise' is a 'must have' for guys who are serious about resistance work
  • Webster666

    Posts: 9217

    Apr 22, 2009 12:45 AM GMT
    Do you have access to one of these gizmos ? It's like a reverse sit-up. I used to do these all the time. I would think that they would strengthen your mid/lower back muscles.

    mc6kbl.jpg