Crunches feel as though they are working our core but they’re really just working our rectus abdominus muscles. Sit-ups feel like a great core exercise but they are actually mostly working the iliopsoas (hip flexor). These muscles are not spinal stabilizers but rather only function to flex the spine. Our core is actually made up of 4 muscles that surround our trunk and provide spinal stability. These muscles include the diaphragm, transverse abdominus, multifidi, and our pelvic floor muscles. The job of the core is to resist motion in the spine, aka “stabilize”. Planks are far superior to sit-ups. They activate the core muscles and shoulder muscles. The military now includes a plank test in their physical fitness test! Sit-ups can actually be a cause of low back pain because they compress the discs of your back. After 30 it is best to erase sit-ups from your routine entirely in favor of other exercises such as planks of various kinds. Even a “pike” exercise with feet on the stability ball would be better for your back than sit-ups and still activate the same muscles. Check out our youtube channel for examples of alternative exercises to sit-ups that will strengthen your core. Some people shouldn’t do the “pike” exercise or certain types of planks because of their injury status or history. Make sure to check with a physical therapist before you do them. Definitely don’t push through pain with any exercises.
The bottom line is that we must keep moving throughout our lives to stay healthy and thriving. Modification of movement and activity is a normal part of aging. It is also important to “change up” your routine regularly. More on that in another blog post! So make sure you check out our youtube channel for more ideas, or join our group classes so you can work with us in a small group setting and make sure you are doing the exercises properly. You will learn unique exercises in our classes that you will not learn ANYWHERE else. Try out a class today and experience the difference for yourself.