Are crunches really bad for your back?

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photo: Stephen McCluskey (Shutterstock)

If you’ve ever taken the military fitness test or the presidential fitness test in gym class, you know the sit-up.someone presses Your feet, sit up as much as you can before the test is over.But then again, you probably have return Heard that crunches are bad for your back, all those gym teachers are wrong, we should do crunches or planks. So what does it matter?

Where did sit-ups come from?

Kind of weird, if you think about it, crunches were supposed to be a thing. In what world do we have to lie down and sit up repeatedly until our stomach hurts? What are we training for?

Crunches are included in military and paramilitary fitness tests out of concern for the backs of service members. Research seems to show that people with weak abdominal muscles are more likely to experience back pain and injuries. (the idea It has been questioned since then, but that’s another story. ) Specifically, the problem is not abdominal strength, but abdominal endurance :HHow long can your core muscles work without giving up?

The sit-up test is the answer to that question. If a recruit can repeatedly contract the abdominal muscles, they must have good abdominal endurance. It is true that sitting up from a lying position does require a lot of abdominal muscles. Problem solved, right?

sit-ups problem

Crunches can hurt your back.It’s not the same as saying crunches bad For your back – we’re doing this – but people do often report that they have back pain after doing a lot of crunches.

How could this happen? Alright, let’s take a quick anatomy lesson.

The main muscles for sit-ups are should The work is the rectus abdominis, six pack abs. It extends longitudinally from your ribcage to your pelvis, and when it contracts, the front of your ribcage comes close to the front of your pelvis. It also works on parts that keep the torso stable in various positions. (Muscles in the back and sides also play a role.)

But we also have muscles called hip flexors, which bring your thighs closer to your torso. Imagine curling up into a fetal position; your hip flexors are the muscles that bring your knees to your chest.

In standard gym crunches, you use both. Your six-pack keeps your shoulders off the ground, and your hip flexors help bring your torso closer to your knees.

So there are two questions here :One are crunches that use your abs and Your hip flexors, not just your abs.that is not real Your The problem; you can make your abs and hip flexors stronger at the same time. It just means the test isn’t testing what it’s supposed to do.But the second question Yes About you personally: YYou may feel pain.

How Crunches Hurt Your Back

So crunches work your abs, and they work your hip flexors too. One of our hip flexors runs along the front of the thigh (it’s also the quadriceps), but there’s a lesser-known muscle group that can cause some back pain during crunches.

This is called iliopsoas muscle. These muscles connect the pelvis to the front of the lower spine.Or to put it another way: IInstead of crunches, these muscles pull on your spine when your pelvis is in a relatively fixed position.

Now, usually this won’t be a problem. While you use your hip flexors to flex your hips in your daily routine (or in other gym lifts), you also use other core muscles to support your torso and stabilize your spine.

but in a High-repetition, timed sit-up test, the goal is to get as many reps as possible in a given time frame. There’s no prize for being well braced or activating your abs more than your hip flexors; those aren’t even easy to measure. You will only be graded based on the number of legal reps you have completed. So your abs get tired, but you keep going. When your rectus abdominis is fatigued, Your hip flexors are taking on more and more work. This may cause back pain and, It can be said, Injuried.

Why crunches aren’t really a problem

So crunches suck, right? Well, it’s more complicated than that.

is having a study I have found this statistic cited in many places to support the statistic that sit-ups cause 56% of the injuries associated with the Army Fitness Test.what to study Actually Found a bit complicated. Yes, sit-ups were more likely than other parts of the test (runs and push-ups) to cause soldiers to say they were injured. But almost all of these are minor “injuries” that do not interfere with their duties and do not require medical attention. (Reading between the lines, it sounds like these people had back pain after the test but quickly recovered.)

One idea that sit-ups are dangerous is that repeatedly bending your spine over the years is bad for you. But the study’s authors didn’t find any difference in injury rates between recruits and those who had been doing the sit-up test for years.

Injury rate Yes It was the largest among soldiers who had previously been injured in exam training, and among those who had the least training and scored the lowest on the exam. This is a strong indication that weakness will make you more vulnerable to injury than crunches can damage a soldier’s back. The authors also cite a previous study that found soldiers with the lowest scores on physical fitness tests were twice as likely to injure their backs while on duty as their peers with higher scores.

Unsurprisingly, people train for the sit-up test by doing a lot of sit-ups. (The injury study here found that people do, on average, about 300 crunches per week in training.) If doing high crunches above the fatigue point hurts your back, then the problem isn’t with any given Sit-ups–This is the test, and the thousands of tired repetitions you do while training for the test. to date, There is no evidence that doing a few sets of crunches as part of your exercise routine will hurt yourself.

How to do sit-ups without hurting your back

These problems with the sit-up test have been known for many years. During the 1990s, many alternatives were proposed. Some of them caught up.

First, if we look back at fitness testing during World War II, crunches were usually done with the legs outstretched on the ground. (there is an illustration of an army guide here.) The bent-leg sit-up was one of the early modifications designed to make the test focus more on the abdominal muscles.

In the 1990s, there was a wave of sit-ups, if you were there, You may remember the transition from abs to crunches to Sit-ups. This version of the crunch involves lying on your back with your knees bent and your hands behind your head. Instead of sitting up, you just need to contract your six-pack abs and lift the tops of your head and shoulders off the floor. If done slowly and under control, this move works your abs with minimal involvement of the hip flexors.

Similar movements are McGill curls. You have one knee bent and one straight, but otherwise it’s similar. Slowly, controlled and paying attention to your lower spine to make sure it doesn’t bend too much. As the iliopsoas pulls on your spine, more depression develops under your lower spine; that’s why you’re told to press your back against your hands or rest on a cushion under your lower back.

Some military tests using crunches have changed the way they have members do them, but they still look a lot like crunches. With someone holding your foot, your knees bent, you start by lying on the ground, and each repetition is considered complete when your arms cross your chest and touch your thighs.this Yes A modification of the early 1990s crunches style, some branches of the service called them “crunches” or “crunches.” But they look more like crunches than standard crunches.

There’s even a more recent trend to phase out these exercises after recognizing (decades late, but hey) that they have the same problems as the old sit-up test.Army now uses Flat panel testas Do navywhile the Marine Corps is currently Converting from crunches to planks(Currently, recruits can choose what to do.) Air Force discount You can choose from planks, crunches or Cross-legged reverse crunch, This looks a bit like a bike crunches.

So how should I work out my abs?

So far, this is a story about fitness testing. G.E. classes and military fitness tests both have problems that require hundreds of people to be judged quickly, with little equipment and clear scoring criteria. They started with high-repetition sit-up tests, modified them, and eventually began switching them to plank tests that met the same scoring criteria in hopes of reducing low back pain complaints. (If your back starts to sag during the plank test, though, don’t be surprised if your back hurts later.)

None of this matters when it comes to us my own exercise. Of course, you can do crunches or crunches if you want. But you can also do crunches if you want. Crunches are not a problem if you:

  • Maintain core support during exercise
  • Stop when your abs get tired
  • Stop if you have back pain

Doing other sports can also injure your back, so these are good rules for when you’re doing crunches, planks, or anything else — including yard work and other sports you might do in your day-to-day life. Not only do these form cues bring crunches back to your repertoire, they also allow you to perform crunches variations like Swiss Ball Crunches, GHD Crunches, V-Crunches, Boat Pose, and more.

When you’re trying to get your core stronger (or aim for a six-pack for vanity sake –It’s ok, I heard) and don’t forget that you can do more exercise than just laying on the ground to strain your abs. Heavy carry and hold, like a farmer’s carry, is arguably one of the most practical ways to exercise your core. Exercises like squats, deadlifts, and rows also work your not forget Our comprehensive guide Create a routine that works for you all Core, you can choose from a wide variety of exercises.

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