Problems with core and lower back

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Whit, Aug 31, 2017.

  1. Whit

    Whit Valued Member

    I am trying to work on my coor but planks cause problems with my lower back and i cant do situps or crunches very well.

    Are there any other exercises i can do to build up to these?
  2. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter


    Sit ups are bad for your back if you do them wrong too!
    Ewiesner and narcsarge like this.
  3. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool the merc with the mouth MAP 2017 Moi Award

    Deadbugs, it's a standard entry level core exercise.
    Ewiesner likes this.
  4. Simon

    Simon Moved on Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    Don't do sit ups, they aren't a core exercise.

    We've also moved on from crunches because there are better exercises.

    The core is so much more than just the abs and you should think of it as your entire trunk.

    For the lats, especially where they tie into the lower back I do this drill.

    narcsarge likes this.
  5. Rataca100

    Rataca100 Banned Banned

    Not what i was expecting this to be, but i did get a list of lower back exercises by the dcotor when i went in about back pain to build up muslces in the area. If i can find the sheet i will see about linking it or something, unless somone can provide diffrent. Also, i can funnily enough do sit ups ok but cant do push ups as my weight to strength ratio is bad.
  6. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    How/why are you getting back issues from planks? That's pretty much the last thing that should happen from them, so either something is very wrong with your back, and you should see a doctor, or your technique is very off and needs correction.

    Re: building up to them, two easy ways to build up to planks are to do them on your knees and/or on an incline (that is, with your upper body higher than it would otherwise be). Both of these will make the position significantly easier to hold.
    narcsarge likes this.
  7. Whit

    Whit Valued Member

    Its like tention in the lower part of my back, i dont know if it is my core that isnt engaging or what.
  8. LandonS

    LandonS Member

    To me it sounds like its your form on planks. essentially planks are a hollow hold facing the floor. I suggest hopping onto youtube and finding a video on hollow holds. Its a core gymnastics element and will work your core. Also what youd gain from it is A)the ability to do a plank without discomfort and B)the ability to do rollouts. Rollouts are a great progression after you can hold the plank for a while (1:30+) starting with kneeling, then standing rollouts to the wall (limits ROM), finally full standing rollouts.
    Dead_pool likes this.
  9. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    You probably experience problems with your low back when doing planks because of weakness.

    Contrary to the advice given by others, your long-term training plan should start by first gradually strengthening the muscles of the abdomen by doing crunches, then progressing to sit-ups, and eventually doing both these exercises with weights. At the same time, you can start strengthening your low back with back extensions on the floor and, once you are strong enough, on a bench. A well-conditioned person will be able to do several hundred crunches or sit-ups per workout, although extensions should be limited to 30 repetitions per set.

    If you struggle with these exercises, you are probably doing them wrong (consult a personal trainer to teach you correct exercise technique) or you are doing too many (do less, and build up the number of repetitions over time).

    Sit-ups have been given a bad reputation in recent years due to so-called fitness experts misinterpreting research data or cherry picking only the parts of a study that support their beliefs. As with most exercises, sit-ups done with correct form and a progressive increase in load are safe and good for you. They strengthen both the abdomen and hip flexors (tensor fasciae latae, iiacus, psoas major, psoas minor) - which are intimately connected with the core.

    Sit-ups on the floor only work the hip flexor muscles through a small range of motion. Once you are strong enough, you should drop sit-ups for leg raises. Leg raises develop the strength and endurance you need to kick with power and do intensive stretching exercises that lead to front and side splits.

    When are you strong enough? First, you should be able to do a set of 500 sit-ups without extra resistance. You can then start doing squats and deadlifts, with the aim of being able to squat six or more times with a barbell weighing at least as much as you do, and deadlift once or twice a barbell weighing twice as much as you do. It is at this point you can progress to lying leg raises and, eventually, hanging leg raises with weight.

    Inevitably, some people will think these recommendations are excessive (those people are welcome to learn from their own experience). My recommendations increase the structural strength of the muscles so they are less likely to be excessively damaged by strenuous exercise. The structural strength of a muscle is determined by the strength and cross-sectional area of the slow-twitch muscle fibres and by the strength of the connective tissue within the muscle. Slow-twitch muscle fibres have relatively greater structural strength than fast-twitch fibres, especially the fast-twitch fibres with low oxidative capacities. It takes more force to stretch, and ultimately to rupture, the slow-twitch fibres than the fast-twitch fibres. This is because the slow-twitch fibres are smaller than the fast-twitch fibres and they have a greater ratio of cellular scaffolding to the contractile elements (which are built of long, thin proteins that are easy to tear). Endurance training, that is, doing many repetitions per set against low resistance, increases the structural strength of slow-twitch muscle fibres. Such training also increases the structural strength of the connective tissue within the muscle, possibly through the anabolic action of hormones that are delivered to the muscle with the increased blood flow.

    It is worth noting that a 2015 study by Benjamin Lee and Stuart McGill compared a long-term dynamic (i.e. crunches) vs. isometric (i.e. planks) core training programme. They found that a 6-week isometric trainning programme was superior to dynamic exercises for increasing core stiffness. However, there are two considerations here: 1) the participants in Lee and McGill's study were already well-conditioned athletes for whom beginner- to intermediate-level exercises like sit-ups and leg raises no longer produced a significant training effect; and 2) the core is essentially a force transducer within the kinetic chain, transferring energy and force from the lower body to the upper body. The takeaway here is that you should follow the progression I outlined above, and combine dynamic exercises with isometric ones such as planks, dead bugs, Palloff presses and suitcase holds to develop well-rounded core strength and stability.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2017
    David Harrison likes this.
  10. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    I've always wondered why it became so fashionable to think of sit-ups as counter-productive, but any other exercise that can be just as bad for you when done with incorrect form is "fine as long as you keep good form"... :confused:

    I was told that it is the psoas flexing the lumbar spine that can be problematic with bad form, what do you reckon?
    Van Zandt likes this.
  11. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Spinal flexion is a natural movement. It therefore isn't the flexion in isolation that might be harmful, but flexion in combination with a myriad of other factors: previous or existing lumbar injury, muscle strength imbalances (e.g. a difference greater than 10% between the abdominal and low back muscles), insufficient warm-up, improper sequence of efforts in a single workout/micro cycle/macro cycle, progression that is too quick, not enough rest, and much more.

    Most healthy people will be just fine so long as they adhere to correct form and they don't train the back before hip flexors in a workout. Here is a good quality instructional video detailing correct sit-up technique:

    It is important to note that my recommendations include changing from sit-ups to leg raises when one is strong enough; this will ensure the risk when doing sit-ups (albeit a very low risk) is a transient one, and that the hip flexors are trained through the full range of movement. Anyone concerned about compressive forces exerted on the spine when doing sit-ups can hang from a bar after each set. This increases space between the vertebrae and offsets the compression.

    Anyone with a history of osteoporosis or back injury should first consult their doctor before starting any exercise programme.
    melbgoju, axelb and David Harrison like this.
  12. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Interesting video... The spine flexion as she goes to the floor is what I try to avoid. For years I've been getting people to not allow the spine to arch, as I've found this keeps the abdominals fully engaged and feels like it's doing funny stuff to the spine (wgi==hich I presumed was the psoas thing I was told about). You can't quite get the head to the floor doing it this way though.

    One exercise on a similar note that I like, that I saw years ago in an old yoga book from the 50's, is writing large numbers or letters in the air with your feet, legs straight and together.
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  13. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    A great exercise no doubt, but one that has very similar actions to lying leg raises and may be too much for unconditioned people.
    David Harrison likes this.
  14. Morik

    Morik Well-Known Member Supporter MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Maybe somewhere between the two: starting with legs just slightly off the floor, pretend there is a wall that your feet are against and walk them up it, then back down.
  15. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    I do leg raises , crunches and hanging leg raises and if using machines, I like Oblique Twists.


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