II have never been a fan of doing sit-ups. Not only are they mind-numbingly boring, but it always feels like my neck and spine are crunching right along with my abs. No matter how I try to adjust my technique, I still end up feeling the strain in all the wrong places. Well, it turns out that doing sit-ups may actually be doing my body more harm than good.
Stuart McGill has been studying the ubiquitous sit-up for 30 years and has come to discover that performing crunches puts an unsafe amount of pressure on the spine, which could lead to back pain and injury. His solution? Avoid doing sit-ups. Period. Instead, try more back-friendly exercises to tighten your abs, such as the plank, bridges or leg extensions.
McGill is working with trainers and fitness associations in order to phase sit-ups out of the exercise lexicon. He even convinced the International Association of Fire Fighters to swap the sit-up portion of their physical exam for a static plank.
The problem is that crunches are still a major part of exercise classes and many trainers swear by them. What’s a girl to do when her fitness instructor orders a round of 30 sit-ups? My plan: Just say no. I’m going to ask my fitness instructor for alternative moves to do during crunch time. Now I just need to perfect my plank.