Brody Thorne

Sit-ups - do they do more harm than good to your body?

The truth about sit-ups and some alternative exercises
1 min
Sit-ups have long been championed as the leading exercise to develop your abs and strengthen your core.

But are they healthy for your spine? Are they actually a good exercise for building your core?

Sit-ups involve spinal flexion, and performing them pushes a curved spine against the floor while employing hip flexor muscles. This can be painful due to the compressive force that is placed on your spine as the nucleus inside the discs is squeezed. Dr. Stuart McGill, Professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo has done extensive research on the exercise, prompting him to teach about the dangers of sit-ups and crunches.

Sit-ups  also only focus on abdominal strength and not overall core strength. There are simply better ways than sit-ups to develop core strength that also protect your spine.

Here are some safer exercises for working your core:

This exercise gained worldwide exposure and popularity in 2011, and is regarded as one of the simplest and most effective ways to build abdominal muscles, obliques and glutes. Done properly, planks can also improve your posture, balance and flexibility while building the strength in the muscles around the spine. Building strength here will lessen the stress on the spine when you are sitting.

Bird dog
Similar to a plank, but resting on both your forearms and your knees, which are perpendicular to the floor. Extend opposite arms and legs and hold for a second or two. Alternate sides for 90 seconds.

Farmer’s walk/suitcase carry
Pick-up either one (suitcase carry) or two heavy objects (farmer’s walk) that you can carry easily at your side in each hand. Walk straight, tall and normally for ten full strides while carrying the weighted object. Walk back. If carrying one weight, switch hands and go again. Repeat three times.

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