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Spine Sparing Exercises for Core Development


Core development is essential to any sport. It takes a strong core to provide a solid support system for explosive, powerful movements. When the deep core muscles that support the spine are weak, your nervous system puts the brakes on your explosive potential as a protective mechanism. Not only that, but insufficient core stability strength will increase your probability to injury and limit your mobility.

Crunches compress your lower back

Professor Stuart McGill is the leading expert on back pain. According to McGill crunches can cause hundreds of pounds of compression on the discs of your spine. The repeated bending of the spine typical of a series of crunches can cause long-term damage. As the discs compress, they bulge outward, pressing on the nerves of your spine and causing back pain. In serious cases, a herniated disc can occur, a painful and debilitating spinal injury. In a 2005 study published in the journal Military Medicine, 56 percent of injuries in the physical readiness test of 1,500 U.S. Army soldiers resulted from crunches. It’s better to stick to exercises that challenge the core while maintaining a neutral spine as an alternative to the crunch.

Top 3 spine sparing core development exercises

There are several exercises that provide all the abdominal strengthening benefits of a crunch, without the associated back pain. Below is a list of our top three spine sparing core development exercises that do not produce extra strain on the spine. They are listed progressively from the foundation exercise of the McGill curl-up to more advanced in the stability ball stir the pot.

1. McGill curl-up

Foundation – McGill curl-up
To do a curl-up, place your hands underneath your lower back for support, with your shoulders barely leaving the floor with each repetition.

2. Pallof Press

Moderate – Pallof press
The Pallof Press trains you to maintain rigidity through the trunk and hips. That improves the stability of all of those muscles, but also the entire body’s ability to be powerful.

3. Stir the Pot

Advanced – Stir the pot
Start in a plank position with your elbows resting on a stability ball. Make circles with your elbows to activate the lats while the core has to stabilize your position.

Behm Muscle & Joint Clinic approach to back pain

Behm Muscle & Joint Clinic in Bellevue Nebraska is a Chiropractic, soft tissue therapy and rehabilitation clinic. With 80% of the population experiencing lower back pain at some point in their life, we strive ourselves at helping you lessen your chances. Our evidenced-based treatments and rehabilitation exercises help to conservatively treat lower back pain. If you have any questions do not hesitate to call us at 402-292-1450 or schedule an appointment online.

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