How To Do Sit-Ups Without Hurting Your Back

Sit ups may look like a simple exercise, but those of us who have done them often know they can be difficult to do properly! Your arms are behind your head pulling your head towards the ceiling to help you up, craning your neck. In the mean time your whole torso is curving into a “C” shape, and after 3 or 4 you start to feel strain or pain in your back.

Surely this can’t be good for you??

Well the truth is, doing THAT is not good for you! Doing the above is a prime example of not engaging the right muscles to complete an exercise. You are potentially damaging your lower back doing this. Follow these steps to perform sit ups correctly.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor
  • Place your hands flat on your thighs with your fingers pointing towards your knees (this will stop you trying to pull yourself up on your neck)
  • Tense your stomach muscles slightly to engage them (you may want to do this a few times. sometimes muscles need waking up!)
  • Use your stomach muscles to flatten the arch of your lower back onto the floor (this will protect your back muscles)
  • Using your abdominals, pull your torso up from the floor. Concentrate on keeping your lower back flat, your shoulders in line and your neck straight as possible. It helps if you focus on a spot on the ceiling in line with your knees.
  • When you get half way up, hold for a moment so that you feel the work in your abdominals. Then relax down slowly.
  • You will notice that as your abdominals start to exhaust, you will drop your form, causing your lower back to rise and curve again. At this point you should stop as you may start to damage your back.

Don’t be disappointed if you fail or struggle. It is very common for abdominal muscles to be weak if you have not exercised in a long time, particularly if you have a job that calls for you to sit at a desk for hours on end. Practice makes perfect. Get the right form and progress will follow.


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