You are on page 1of 1


a 6-Pack and a Strong Core?

April 2013 By Rudy Mueller DC

SIT UPS and CRUNCHESare not the answer. Now if your goal is to herniate a disc and cost our medical system approximately $42,000 (cost of single disc surgery) then sit ups and crunches are the answer. I had the privilege of attending a seminar put on by Dr. Stuart McGill, author of Ultimate Back Fitness, this past weekend. He is a low back/core guru who studys average Joes all the way up to elite athletes in the UFC. When I say study, this man has access to the most up to date and expensive toys for analyzing biomechanics, neuromuscular firing patterns and athletic ability I have ever seen. His research, from the University of Waterloo, has been some of the most beneficial in advancing physician and practitioner knowledge about the mechanics, muscle patterning and rehabilitation of the spine. Often when an athlete or anyone else for that matter gets hurt they blame it on one specific eventI bent to pick up my tooth brush and then, I was shoveling snow and heard, I dont understand it was a light day at the gym. The fact is that most injury, unless traumatic, are due to a culmination of poor movement patterns/posture, repetitive stress and resultant tissue failure. Similar to repeatedly stretching a rubber band or bending a wire the initial load may not be the problem but the sum of the loads equals failure. We have to think of our posture like a bank, are we adding dollars throughout the day with good posture or are we withdrawing our financial stability, working our way towards broke. The fact is that repeated flexion in the spine, especially to end range, sets our spines and our discs up for failure. The majority of us sit in lumbar flexion all day at our computer desk, or while driving in the car, or on the couch watching TV. To then go to the gym or lie on your floor and perform sit-ups is spinal suicide. In fact crunches and sit-ups are one of the weakest exercises to activate the 6-pack muscles (rectus abdominis). As demonstrated through a study in 2000, titled Abdominal muscle response during curl-ups on both stable and labile surfaces it was shown that the rectus abdominis contracted only 21% of its maximal voluntary contraction when performing a curl-ups on a stable surface and only 35% on a labile ball. There are many great core exercises some that improve stability of the spine along with others creating close to 100% activation of those 6-pack muscles. The important thing is that each individual be assessed and prescribed workouts that are specific to their needs. The abdominal muscles primary action is to protect the spine and stop motion NOT to initiate it. The exercise youtube addresses below demonstrate 1. spine-sparing performance with an added bonus of being taught by Dr. Stu McGill and 2. the rectus abdominis activation-abdominal walkout. ENJOY! Train the Core the Right Way- Abdominal Walkouts-