Getting rid of your belly pouch
Stop doing crunches, leg raises, and sit ups!
There are several reasons to stop doing these exercises. The first and most important is they put an undue amount of stress on your lower back. According to Dr. Stuart McGill, world renown low back specialist, “sit ups (both straight leg and bent-knee are characterized by higher psoas activation, with consequent high low back compressive forces that exceed NIOSH (1) occupational standards.” The second reason for not doing crunches and sit ups is they lengthen the transverse abdominus muscles at the same time they are strengthening the rectus abdominus muscle.
This is what causes your lower abs to pouch outward. Not a pretty sight.
Another thought for you to consider is this: doing crunches or sit ups, especially if you are holding onto your head, as so many poorly informed trainers ill advise, may cause your head to be pushed out of alignment with y our spine and create undue tension in your shoulders. Both can cause damage to your spine, your health and create a lasting level of pain that is unnecessarily caused by doing these exercises.
There is a better way to tighten up your abs and one that is easy on your back while at the same time produces results. This is the curl up, not to be confused with the notorious aforementioned crunch.
The curl up
Curl up exercise description
- Lay on the floor looking up at the ceiling.
- Place your hands under the small of your back – do not flatten your back to the floor because this places an unnecessary stress on the lower back.
- Bend one leg to about ninety degrees and leave the second leg in a relaxed position straight out on the floor – this helps to keep the lumbar spine from actually flattening against the floor.
- Keep your head and neck rigid. DO NOT bend them up as you move upward.
- Focus on the ceiling as you raise your upper body upward.
- Lift the head and shoulders a short distance off the floor.
- Rotate only at the thoracic region and NOT at the neck and head.
- The chin should NOT be jutting up or down during any part of this movement.
- Hold the up position for a count of five to ten and then lower back down for one repetition.
(1) The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)