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Old 12-20-05, 09:44 AM   #1
Danny Boy
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Back Pain From Sit Ups

Hi There,

I recently joined my local gym which is located on campus where I work as I work for a University. I've been at the gym now for about a month. I go about 2/3 times a week and work out my back and bi-ceps and chest and tri-ceps. During these work outs I have a situp session.

When doing situps I get to about 10 and then get this back pain. Its pain in my lower back and I've always been told to stop if you get any back pain. Anyone have any ideas whats causing this? I am failry fit chap, 61kg, 5.7ft. I'm doing situps on a mat/swiss ball and I get the same problem. I have tried bigger and smaller swiss balls and still get this pain. Any suggestions would be great.

Danny
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Old 12-20-05, 01:30 PM   #2
Danny Boy
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Any suggestions? I train with a mate of mine and he cant see what I'm doing wrong. He thought it might be not getting the right breathing technique? I'll google it see what I find.

Danny
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Old 12-20-05, 01:58 PM   #3
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I have the same problem, so I do leg lifts instead (i.e. lie on a bench and raise your legs). They seem to work well for me, but I have pretty weak abdominals so I don't need much weight to get a good workout.

Also, you can try crunches instead of full sit-ups. From what I've read, to work your abs you only need to raise your upper body to about a 30-degree angle each time. Beyond that and you are working the hip flexors more than the abdominals/transverse abdominals. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but most people are aiming for the abs. So crunches should work just as well and be much easier on the back.
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Old 12-20-05, 01:59 PM   #4
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I've had back pain from sit ups. I'd recommend stretching several times a week. Especially target the lower back. Here are some links that may help:

http://physicaltherapy.about.com/od/...BackPainEx.htm
http://physicaltherapy.about.com/od/...kStretches.htm
http://www.healthatoz.com/healthatoz...rt05222001.jsp
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Old 12-20-05, 02:10 PM   #5
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back pain from sit ups, mean you have a weak lower back, do some dead lifts, and what about you legs? Legs are some of the most important things to work in the gym, just cycling is nice, but squats, they do wonders.
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Old 12-20-05, 02:17 PM   #6
Danny Boy
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Thanks guys. I think I'll try the crunches and then work on improving the strenght in my back.

Danny
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Old 12-20-05, 02:23 PM   #7
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Perhaps try doing crunches with your legs at a 90 degree angle (bottom of feet even with ceiling)

Or, crunches on a giant ball

One of the most effective things I have found to stretch out the back is go into child's pose after crunches (sit kneeling, feet together knees apart, lean foreward with forehead touching floor).

Stretch out the abs by laying back on a giant ball (hands and feet touching the floor). Do the same on the stomach.

It's important that you work opposing muscle groups . . . work the back whenever you work the abs.
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Old 12-20-05, 07:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SandySwimmer
(snip) (sit kneeling, feet together knees apart, lean foreward with forehead touching floor).

Stretch out the abs by laying back on a giant ball (hands and feet touching the floor). (/snip)
Dang you're way more flexible than me.

Danny, not sure how you feel about them but I would recommend a good chiropractor that works with athletes. Mine is awwesome. I see him once or twice a month and this is the best my back has felt in 20 years.
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Old 12-20-05, 09:07 PM   #9
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Without watching you do them, this is a guess, but there's a pair of muscles that run from the lumbar region of your spine to the top front of your thighs called the psoas (actually illiopsoas, pronounced so-ahs). You're probably using them, rather than your abs when you do sit-ups, and putting a lot of strain on your lower back. (It's not necessarily a back strength issue... you're sitting up by pulling on the lower part of your spine rather than the front of your rib cage.) Do crunches for the abs, and include core conditioning on fitball type stuff.
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Old 12-21-05, 05:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadbuzz
Without watching you do them, this is a guess, but there's a pair of muscles that run from the lumbar region of your spine to the top front of your thighs called the psoas (actually illiopsoas, pronounced so-ahs). You're probably using them, rather than your abs when you do sit-ups, and putting a lot of strain on your lower back. (It's not necessarily a back strength issue... you're sitting up by pulling on the lower part of your spine rather than the front of your rib cage.) Do crunches for the abs, and include core conditioning on fitball type stuff.
What you have described does sound like thats what I'm doing wrong. I've got a gym session tomorrow so going to work at it. Thanks for all the input everyone.

Danny
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Old 12-21-05, 06:50 AM   #11
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Yes-sir-e-bob!
I love doing sit-ups. Do 'em every night. Very important to proper back health.
BUT.... they aren't the only exercise you need to do.
Sit-ups alone will hurt your back, I learned that the hard (painful) way. Crunches and other varieties are critical.
Also be sure not to overstress your joints. An excessive use of a shoulder or knee exercise is damaging. Always try to balance your work-out over the entire body. Be sure to get sufficient rest, proper sleep and rest days are vital. You can not lift weights/nautilus day after day. Your body is not physically capable of it. It must rest a day to rebuild.
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Old 12-22-05, 07:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny Boy
What you have described does sound like thats what I'm doing wrong.
As an aside, the psoas is an important muscle for cycling, in addition to general core fitness. It's used to lift you thigh (as in pedaling upstroke). One trainer I know does sit-ups specifically to develop it. It's also important to stretch it. Try googling psoas for an assortment of interesting reading about these muscles.
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Old 12-22-05, 09:16 PM   #13
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Psoas (major and minor) is an important consideration, as is iliacus, together known as iliopsoas. Strength and flexibility are both important, to be sure. The one thing that many therapists miss in regards to back pain, unfortunately, is that the low back needs, above all, ENDURANCE (Type I muscle fiber), not strength per se (not Type II muscle fiber). That is, training power or strength (strength as in low rep, high weight training) to reduce low back pain will result in failure. Those who debate this point simply have no idea about LBP research or reality. Seated exercises are also a very bad idea, since sitting places MORE stress on the lower back than standing, and exercises like seated ab crunches or extensions, or even worse, seated rotations, actually cause MORE INJURIES than they were designed to prevent. These facts are often missed by well-meaning physical therapists, personal fitness trainers, and even chiropractic physicians, who ought to know better. Most medical doctors are usually not well educated in musculoskleletal medicine, either.

Muscles to pay attention to when experiencing LBP are:

multifidus and other erector spinae
quadratus lumborum
transverse abdominus
iliopsoas
rectus abdominus
abdominal obliques, internal and external
gluteals (maximus, medius, minimus)
hip rotators (piriformis, etc.)
hamstrings
hip abductors

These muscles need:

balance (i.e., symmetry), especially the lateral muscles such as quadratus lumborum and iliopsoas and lateral hip rotators such as piriformis

flexibility, especially erector spinae, iliopsoas, hamstrings and lateral hip rotators

stability (all muscle groups)

endurance (all muscle groups, especially core muscle groups)

Testing these parameters is the job of the chiropractor or physical therapist; it is likely that no other medical provider or therapist/trainer will have the knowledge to do those tests. The tests are simple for the DC or PT.

Training must be gradual, orderly, progressive and safe. For chronic LBP sufferers, it is unrealistic to think a few weeks will be enough to solve the problem. Chronic LBP sufferers will need MONTHS to begin to address their dysfunctin and approach a cure.

Advice to treaters of LBP: read Stuart McGill until you understand him cold.

I'll let you in on a secret: Most LBP sufferers, especially chronic sufferers, ALREADY have excellent muscle tone in their "low back muscles" (erector spinae). That's because they OVERUSE those muscles and strain them, leading to scar formation and chronic re-straining. Ever notice how people who don't exercise get a FLAT BUTT? My experience is that ALMOST ALL of my chronic non-discogenic low back pain patients have no butt. The good news is that there is now a surgical procedure to correct this problem. It's called an addanasstomy. Stumped? Don't worry, most M.D.'s are as well. Let me repeat: add an ass to me. Now you get it. Most LBP is the result of back overuse and weak gluteals. So, to be brief: get an ass.

Last edited by CapeRoadie; 12-22-05 at 09:28 PM.
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Old 12-22-05, 10:26 PM   #14
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How do you get an ass?
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Old 12-22-05, 11:07 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
How do you get an ass?
Let me count the ways:

split squats (my personal favorite)
step-ups
RDL's
trad dead lifts
squats
one-legged squats
one-legged RDL's
one-legged balancing on unstable surfaces (gluteus medius)
cross crawls
lunges
walking lunges
any hip extension exercise with good range of motion of the hip (e.g., not running or walking)
cycling
spinning
climbing
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Old 12-23-05, 10:32 AM   #16
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Apparently, you should never do conventional crunches or sit-ups as it damages the lower back. I have a friend who's father found out the hard way and I have read some material on the problem since. Normally, you get problems after a some years. If you want to do crunches/sit-ups, you should do it with your feet resting against the wall, knees bent 90-degrees.

There are better exercises for the stomach area than crunches. I prefer weight bearing ones as I go for endurance and strength.

Effective back exercises are push-ups, leg lifts while lying face down (lower back) and upper body raises (hands folded behind neck) when lying face down (upper back). Bent-over rows work if you are carefull. Low rows (sitting) help some: I do these to help me climb out of the saddle in a crouch; hard on the shoulders and arms.

I don't think dead lifts would be all that effective, but would help some.

Al
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Old 12-23-05, 11:10 AM   #17
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Next time you're at the gym, go over to the lat pull-down machine and remove the lat bar. Replace it with one of the triangle-type hand grips. Set the weight light to start. Sit at the lat machine in reverse: facing away from the weights with your back towards the machine. Grip the hand grip with both hands and bring it down to your forehead. Keeping the grip at your forehead, begin crunching your abs. Since you're in a seated position, you'll only be able to crunch so far -- well within the tolerance of your back muscles. Crunch and hold and repeat for your set. Once you get confortable, begin to increase the weight in small increments over time.

As for dead lifts, they're excellent for many muscle groups that you would not think of at first: especially abs and, believe it or not, forearms (through development of grip strength).
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Old 12-26-05, 10:33 PM   #18
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Check out www.CombatAbs.com
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