Are you wondering if sit-ups are safe for the spine? Are you concerned of the curling of your vertebrae when you do sit-ups? Well, the answer to your question is presented in this article. Here, we discuss the benefits of sit-ups as well as its safety for the spine, which is always your Land O Lakes chiropractor’s chief concern.

Sit-ups are one of the most popular and effective exercises to develop the abdominal muscles and they have become the common interest of fitness experts as well as people who want to develop tight and gorgeous abs. The ultimate goal of performing sit-ups is to have a flat abdomen so most people who work out never miss out on employing sit-ups in their exercise routines. However, studies also show that this same conventional exercise for the abdominal muscles is also a culprit for spinal problems during workouts. Nevertheless, proper execution of sit-ups is seen as generally safe for the spine.

During sit-ups, the legs are usually bent. In this exercise, first, the trunk curls as one attempt to sit-up from a supine position. During the trunk curl, the rectus abdominis and the internal obliques contracts contributing to a toned abdominal muscles. During the trunk curl, the hip flexors are also activated making the person ‘sit-up’. It is during this phase when sit-ups become dangerous for the vertebrae. When hip flexor contraction happens without the curling of the trunk, there may be increased tension on the anterior portion of the lumbar spine contributing to over extension. As a result, the torso lifts and the spine becomes unstable. With this phenomenon, it is seen that sit-ups become dangerous when not done properly: when the hip flexor contraction is not simultaneously done with the trunk curl. Nevertheless, fitness experts state that a properly executed sit-up does not cause inquiry in any way to the spine.

The Options for Safer Sit-ups

If you want to develop your abdominal muscles and gain better stability of the spine without undue tension to the lower back, the following options may be done:

• Employ sit-ups with the knees and hips flexed. When the knees are flexed instead of extended on the floor, there is reduced tension to the lumbar spine because of reduced risk for anterior shear.

• Focus on strengthening the transverse and external oblique muscles. Most sit-ups concentrate on the rectus abdominis and internal obliques giving more tension to the spine. In this line, working on your transverse and external obliques makes it less stressful to the vertebrae. Other methods may include other options aside from sit-ups and trunk curls.

• Consider talking to your physical therapist before undergoing sit-ups. To help you prepare yourself in doing sit-ups, talk to a physical therapist if the exercise is right for you. He or she may diagnose your abdominal muscle strength as well as the stability of your spine to help identify if you are fit for doing sit-ups.

• Try high push-up position or planking. These exercises also develop the core muscles in your abdomen without injuring your spine. These are excellent sit-up alternatives if you feel back pain.

To sum it up, sit-ups are generally safe, but if employed incorrectly, they can be very detrimental to your spine. So if you are doing sit-ups for the first time, better employ alternative exercises and seek professional consult before doing sit-ups.