What? A chance to never do a sit up again? Where do I sign up…….?

I still get anxiety when I think of grade 6 gym class and seeing how many sit-ups I could do for fitness testing.

As we kick off 2018- and many people start the year off with health and fitness resolutions. I thought it appropriate to talk about why I have not done a sit up since I was a freshman on my university soccer team.

Don’t get me wrong. CORE STABILITY is so so important…… but sit-ups and crunches are not the best nor the safest way to develop core strength and stability.


So why havn’t  I done a sit up or crunch in over 10 years.


  • Without getting into it too much detail, Dr. Stuart McGill out of the University of Waterloo has done the research and it strongly suggests that flexion based exercises (like sit ups and curls) may actually be harmful for the back.


  •  His research has shown that many commonly performed flexion exercises (sit-ups and crunches) result in so much spinal compression that it has the ability to compromise tissue and result in injury.


  •   The traditional sit-up, for example, imposes about 730 lbs of compression on the spine at each repetition. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has set the action limit for low back compression at 730 lbs; repetitive loading at or above this level is linked to higher injury rates in workers, yet this is imposed on the spine with each repetition of a sit up !

What ?…….No Thank You.

  • Furthermore, his research has demonstrated that there are a limited number of cycles of compression a lumbar spinal disc can go through before it herniates. This number is different between genders and age groups, but it is something to keep in mind.


Why willingly increase risk of a disk herniation by doing sit-ups and crunches?


  • Finally, if we consider for a moment that the abdominal muscles real job in life and sport is to work as ANTI-MOVEMENT stabilizing muscles, which protect the spine and prevent spinal buckling or shearing ,then we should always be training the abdominals in functional ways.


  • So when we select exercises to work on our abdominals or core we should be focusing on stabilization or “anti-movement” exercises that are functional- not sit-ups or crunches.

This is even more true if you’ve had back problems in the past.

So stop doing  sit-ups and crunches !  Yes you read that right. I am giving you permission.

A good rehabilitation professional  should be able to provide functional, safe and effective abdominal/core exercises that are specific for you, minimize your risk of injury and do what they should do- protect your back and other body parts.

Follow @movementlink on Instagram for our movement of the week starting this month.