According to leading Los Angeles spine surgeons, one of the best things you can do to minimize back pain, affecting about a third of the population at any given point, is to maintain muscle strength. It may seem counter-productive to target abdominal muscles as part of any efforts to strengthen your spine through exercise, but there’s logic to achieving this goal with sit-ups.
Strengthening the Spine from the Other Side
Despite its physical location, the spine is not a one-dimensional structure. There’s also a “front” part to the spine that’s supported, in part, by the internal and external oblique muscles of the abdomen and the transversus abdominis muscle, which maintains abdominal pressure and stabilizes the trunk. Weak abs can make your spine and other muscles supporting it from behind work harder, oftentimes contributing to some degree of lower back pain.
Achieving an Effective Counter-Balance
Your spine is surprisingly durable, often absorbing some degree of stress and strain throughout the day. Sit-ups help your spine better absorb everyday movements by providing an added layer of support in addition to what’s provided by the trapezius and latissimus dorsi muscles, the largest muscles of the back commonly referred to as the traps and lats. When muscles in the front and back of the spine are strengthened, the result is an effective counter-balance between both muscle groups.
Evenly Targeting Muscles Supporting the Spine
Sit-ups should be a part of a core-strengthening workout that includes directly and evenly targeting muscles supporting the spine. Stronger abdominal muscles from sit-ups and similar exercises can also help your spine by:
- Encouraging better posture
- Reducing muscle strain
- Minimizing the impact from certain activities, such as contact sports
The spine-friendly position for sit-ups is with your back supported against a flat, stable surface. Your head and shoulders should come off the floor first in a vertical position. A pillow or rolled-up towel behind your neck can provide added support and prevent back strain.
Before starting any regular exercise efforts, check with your board-certified back and neck doctor first. If you experience any sudden back pain, take a break or seek medical attention if it doesn’t pass within 24-48 hours.
For individuals living with chronic back pain, it may be time to seek a second opinion and discuss more extensive treatment options. To schedule a consultation and get on the road to a pain-free life, call (310) 828-7757 today.