Abdominal strengthening is definitely important in the prevention and healing of back and neck injuries. The abdominals support the spine and pelvis from the front and sides. They work somewhat like guide wires, along with the extensor muscles of the back, to provide movement and to stabilize the spine in a relatively neutral, lengthened position. Therefore, the emphasis while strengthening the abdominals should be on performing smooth controlled movements and on maintaining the spine in relatively low stress, lengthened positions. Unfortunately, many of the ways that people perform abdominal strengthening can actually aggravate low back and neck problems. The emphasis should not be on high speed repetition, nor forceful movements where the spine is compressed and rounded.
BAD MOVES WHEN DOING ABDOMINAL EXERCISES.
- AVOID DOING CURL-UPS OR BENT KNEE SITUPS.
If they result in increased low back or leg pain. If your pain is aggravated by sitting or bending, it is
best to avoid these and to strengthen your abdomen by performing lower abdominal isometrics in back lying, standing, and walking positions or by doing the lower abdominal leg extension exercise.
- AVOID BENDING/ PULLING YOUR HEAD/NECK FORWARD IN FRONT OF THE CHEST.
When doing abdominal exercises, people often forcefully pull on the back of the head with their hands. This strains the neck, encourages poor posture, and reduces the workload to your abdominal muscles.
- AVOID DOING STRAIGHT- LEG SITUPS OR HOOKING YOUR FEET UNDER FURNITURE.
If you tend to arch your low back as you pull up. Both of these methods work the hip flexor muscles, which allows the abdominals to take a break.
- AVOID GOING FAST.
Going fast means you are using momentum to do the exercise, which is less effective for strengthening. Going fast also makes it much easier to injure or at least aggravate your neck and low back because of the pumping and compression that occur at higher rates of speed.
- AVOID ATTEMPTING TO PULL UP MORE THAN ONE THIRD OF THE WAY .
The abdominals work very hard through the first one-third of the range after that you tend to pull in the hip muscles, and you are simply increasing compression and strain to your low back and neck.
- AVOID DROPPING BACK DOWN FROM THE SITUP POSITION.
The lowering phase is just as important for strengthening as the sitting-up phase. Therefore, lower your smoothly and slowly back to the starting position.
GOOD MOVES TO STRENGTHEN YOUR ABDOMINALS MORE EFFICIENTLY AND SAFELY
- LOWER ABDOMINAL ISOMETRIC.
Lift your lower abdominal up and in while maintaining a relaxed breathing pattern, your lower abdomen should take on a relatively concave shape. Initially attempt this isometric for 5- 10 seconds as a time while lying on your back. If you are having difficulty pulling your abdomen in, place your hands across the area and think of pulling your abdomen in away from your hands. As you gain control in this position, attempt the isometric while standing and walking for up to 30 seconds. Think of actually lifting the weight of the upper body up off your low back by gently pulling the abdominals up. The more your abdominals learn to work this way, the more you should be able to relax the front of the neck.