Why You Should Remove Sit Ups/Crunches From Your Workout Regime
Sit-ups and crunches have long been the go to exercise to build solid core strength for athletes. It is not until recently that healthcare professionals have begun to notice the nasty side effects that these exercises can have on the back and neck, here is why.
Imagine you have a paperclip, if you bend it once, nothing will happen. If you bend the paper clip backwards and forwards multiple times eventually the paper clip will break! Your spine is very similar, the act of bending forward at the lower spine (a.k.a lumbar flexion) repeatedly and under resistance can lead to injury. In between each bone of the spine is seperated by what is commonly known as a disc. These disks have a soft, jelly like interior. If these disks come under compression too much, it can lead the jelly like substance on the inside to burst out, which is commonly called a bulging or herniated disk. You are at an even higher risk of a bulging or herniated disk if you also work in a job that requires a lot of sitting around. Slouching in a chair over a computer all day puts stress on these disks. So especially avoid sit ups if you sit down for the majority of the day!
The second issue I often see with people that incorporate a lot of sit-ups in their core training is muscular imbalance. The “core” includes the entire 360° of your trunk. There are many muscles in the core that need to be worked on, these include the erector spinae (lower back extensors), transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, internal/external obliques and multifidus muscles. When doing sit ups, we mainly only recruit the rectus abdominis muscles, and we recruit a little bit of the obliques for assistance.By only doing sit ups we neglect many of the main core muscles necessary for athletic function. Other exercises that help contribute to more balanced core training include squats, deadlifts, side planks, rotational exercises such as wood chops and anti rotational work.