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  1. #1
    tofuhead is offline Registered User
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    Feb 2007
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    lower back aches when doing crunches

    I want to get my abs in shape, but my lower back burns with pain when I try to do any type of crunch style ab work out. I don't know what else to do or what may be wrong.

    Any suggestions?

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  3. #2
    bedfordfitness is offline Warming Up
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    The way the muscles are attatched, some of the lower back muscles actually can do that motion, before you start the crunch be sure your pelvis is rolled back....

    when you lie flat on your back, knees bent an feet flat on the floor, your pelvis can still be "tipped forward" pretend it is a bucket of water, pull it up toward you, rocking it back, to keep this problem from happening. if this doesn't help it is obviously something else, may want to get it checked out.


    I would also advise to do some pilates etc. to strenthen the core all around first, especially if you still cannot do the crunches. Do stabilazation (super mans, planks etc.)

    But you are right, nothing shoudl actually hurt, so dont' do it if it does...

  4. #3
    Friendly_Giant is offline Warming Up
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    I used to get the same problem. I would suggest you do a 10-15 min warm up before you do these crunches, really get your blood pumping and make sure you break a sweat. Then get into those crunches and (in my experince) it's much more easier with a lot less pain. Don't try and push through your back pain thinking your doing the greater good for your abs.

    Chances are your form is off as well. Make sure you don't put your hands behind your neck but on the sides of your head just touching and make sure your contracting your abdominal muscles and using them to lift yourself up. Don't use momentum either to push yourself back up. Don't go all the way up just about mid way with your shoulders as far up as they can go. luck.

  5. #4
    Starcraftmazter is offline Second Set
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    My lower back always hurts when doing crunches, situps, reverse crunches, hanging knee raises, etc - anything involving abs.

    I think it's normal =/

    Unless it hurts a LOT. I can't say it does in my case. Just generally sore and very uncomfortable....but who cares

  6. #5
    flyinfree is offline aDvansT iN duM
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    I have found that when my mentality is "crushing down" the abs I get this. But when I am thinking "squeeze the front, loose in back" and then "stretch it open" I do not get this lower back strain.

    It is the motion of contracting the abs, verses the entire "trunk" of the body that makes a difference for me.

    Try not to squish down, but, just squeeze the front. If you can breath with your abs contracted you are doing better.

    I also find it helps if I keep my abs contracted as I open up,, "Stretch the cage open." You can feel the muscles stretch apart, and your focus on a particular muscle gets better.
    Last edited by flyinfree; Jul. 02/07 at 05:37 AM. Reason: punctuation

  7. #6
    bigbelly is offline In Orientation
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    Jun 2007
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    If youre gonna do abs youve gotta do lower back as well.
    you have to work on your core strength. do the plank or bodybridge whichever one you want to call it. and when your body is straight concentrate on pulling your bellybutton up towards the sky, by sucking it in.
    A very good tip I was given by both a physio and chiropractor was to put my feet flat on a wall with knees bent (not quite 90degrees) for crunches.
    Its also important to make sure your hamstrings are strong and flexible, as this is proven to contribute to lower back pain. another exercise is to lie flat on your back place your hands under your backside this eases strain on your lower back and keeping your legs straight raise them 6 inches of the floor and hold. as you progress and your core gets stronger you will be able to remove your hands from under your arse and rest them on the floor beside you.
    Good luck with finding whats right for you!

  8. #7
    bipennate is offline Second Set
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    Quote Originally Posted by bedfordfitness View Post
    The way the muscles are attatched, some of the lower back muscles actually can do that motion
    Uh...no.

    Quote Originally Posted by Starcraftmazter
    My lower back always hurts when doing crunches, situps, reverse crunches, hanging knee raises, etc - anything involving abs.

    I think it's normal =/

    Unless it hurts a LOT. I can't say it does in my case. Just generally sore and very uncomfortable....but who cares
    It's certainly not "normal." Exercise should not cause pain!

    To the OP: your low back is hurting because it is arched while you are performing your crunches from poor neural control of pelvic positioning. This comes from poor activation of your lower abdominal (note: this is not the same as seperating upper and lower abs, which can't be done, but a neuromuscular distinction). You need to work on pelvic neutral, where your back is flat against the floor (or more functionally, flat while standing).

    With your back arched, the lumbar extensors are passively insufficient, and are caused to cramp when trying to brace the spine without the help of weak core strength. Rather than doing crunches, which are functionally worthless, you should be performing planks and other spine stabilization exercises in order to improve your postural control, as bigelly suggested.

  9. #8
    rmoore is offline Registered User
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    I don't recommend crunches at all, for this exact reason. If you have ever read Stuart McGill's amazing book "Low Back Disorders", you would definitely steer clear of crunches. This book is amazing by the way...I would suggest that anyone with a history of back pain buy it immediately.

    I have a slipped disk and experienced pain for years, until I stumbled across this book (for those who can't afford to fork over the money for the book, I put together a free three-part article with videos on my blog).

    Conquer Low Back Pain While Getting Fit

    I think this will make sense when you read it. I have followed this advice for about 4-5 years and I have great six pack abs as well as a pain-free back.

    Rusty

  10. #9
    sussygeno is offline Joe Blow
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    Thanks for sharing rmoore this would really help
    Quote Originally Posted by rmoore View Post
    I don't recommend crunches at all, for this exact reason. If you have ever read Stuart McGill's amazing book "Low Back Disorders", you would definitely steer clear of crunches. This book is amazing by the way...I would suggest that anyone with a history of back pain buy it immediately.

    I have a slipped disk and experienced pain for years, until I stumbled across this book (for those who can't afford to fork over the money for the book, I put together a free three-part article with videos on my blog).

    Conquer Low Back Pain While Getting Fit

    I think this will make sense when you read it. I have followed this advice for about 4-5 years and I have great six pack abs as well as a pain-free back.

    Rusty

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