Are Sit-Ups Worth the Risk?
Improperly performed sit-ups or doing too many sit-ups before the lower back is sufficiently strong can cause back pain. The problem lies in the contraction of the psoas muscle, a hip flexor muscle that runs from the front of the upper thigh to the lower back. When performing traditional sit-ups, the psoas not only tilts the pelvis up and down, which may cause discomfort and pain by itself, but also increases the compressive forces on the lumbar spine discs.
It is important to note that many people may perform sit-ups without ever experiencing problems. For others, this can be a provocative exercise. There are plenty of alternatives!
Stuart McGill, a highly regarded professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Canada and a back-pain clinician, contributes to the article, The Truth About Sit-Ups by Charles Poliquin, by endorsing exercise programs which emphasize all of the major muscles that girdle the spine, including but not concentrating on only the abs. Other exercises that can strengthen the core and help alleviate low back pain include:
- Front plank
- Side plank
- Glute bridge: This is a great exercise for the hip extensor muscles (gluteus maximus) and also is an active stretch of the hip flexors, the glutes and abs work on opposite sides of the pelvis so it is extremely efficient to work both sides together
Renowned strength and conditioning specialist Charles Poliquin summarizes the sit-up dilemma simply in this article:
To do sit-ups or not to do sit-ups; that is the question. Let’s make this easy: The muscular midsections of powerlifters and weightlifters are proof that simply performing total-body lifts such as squats, power cleans and deadlifts can develop impressive abdominals. Although sit-ups have been a popular exercise for the abs and some people do not experience any back or neck pain from the exercise, the fact is an individual can develop tremendous abdominals without ever performing a sit-up. Therefore, you have to ask yourself, are sit-ups worth the risk?
Recipe of the Month: Chocolate Chili
Chili is an easy Super Bowl party staple that can be made ahead and requires no fussing. This particular chili, with flavors reminiscent of mole, is spicy but not hot. The recipe was adapted from the Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat cookbook by Melissa Joulwan. Try placing a generous helping of spaghetti squash, mashed cauliflower, or a handful of raw baby spinach leaves in the bottom of your chili bowl for added veggie power.
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 medium onions, diced (about 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
2 pounds ground beef
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 can (14.5 ounces) fire-roasted, chopped tomatoes
1 can (14.5 ounces) beef broth
1 cup water
1. Heat a large, deep pot over medium-high heat, then add the coconut oil. When the oil is melted, add onions, stir with a wooden spoon and cook until they're translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and as soon as it's fragrant, about 30 seconds, crumble the ground meat into the pan with your hands, mixing with the wooden spoon to combine. Continue to cook the meat, stirring often, until it's no longer pink.
2. In a small bowl, crush the oregano between your palms to release its flavor, then add the chili powder, cumin, cocoa, allspice, and salt. Combine with a fork, then add to the pot, stirring like you mean it. Add tomato paste and stir until combined, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes with their juice, beef broth, and water to the pot. Stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the chili enjoys a gentle simmer. Simmer uncovered for at least 2 hours. Do not skimp on the simmer! Serve in deep bowls with bog spoons.
Try a meat combo by mixing ground beef with ground turkey, pork, or bison.
Make a double batch and freeze half so you have chili-on-demand.
Top with sliced olives, diced onions, and/or avocado slices.
Sprained ankles and other sports injuries? Chiropractic can help!
Have you ever sprained your ankle? Ouch! Did you know that chiropractic can help re-align extremity joints like the ankles, hips, knees, shoulders and wrists? Many athletic franchises have team chiropractors to adjust athletes to perform at their best and to help heal and prevent injuries.
Dr. Craig Buhler, former chiropractor for the Utah Jazz professional basketball team, set out to study the interrelationships between muscle function, range of motion, and restriction that leads to pain. With Dr. Buhler's work, the Utah Jazz had the lowest player-missed games due to injury rate in the NBA - 61 player-missed games due to injury within a 20-year long span, compared to the league average of 171 in the same time frame.
Consider Dr. Buhler's chiropractic approach he uses for sprained ankles, an injury caused by a sudden sideways or twisting movement of your foot. Typically, a severely sprained ankle can take you out of commission for several weeks. Adjusting the ankle can greatly decrease your time off work or away from sports.
An inversion sprain, which is the most common, occurs when the talus bone — the top bone in your ankle — rotates and the heel bone counter-rotates. This causes the long bone on the outside of your ankle called the fibula to drop inferior and shift backwards at the attachment in your knee. That changes the dynamic of your joint mechanoreceptors, causing severe pain when you put any weight on the joints. To address this, the technique calls for adjusting the ankle mortise back into alignment, so the joint tracks properly. In the beginning, when the muscles are challenged, they will be weak and painful. But, once they've been activated, upon re-testing they are once again solid and pain free, and can withstand weight bearing.
Community Health Talks to your company, church, groups, organizations...
Did you know that Dr. Pete enjoys speaking in the community to various businesses and groups about healthy living? Please let us know if you are part of a group that would like to have an interactive, fun presentation on living a healthier life. Topics include:
- Address Your Stress! Adjust, Adapt, and Live a Healthier, Happier Life.
- Power Up Your Life: 7 Keys to More Energy
- 5 Cholesterol Myths: What Your Doctor Has Not Told You About Heart Health
- Use It or Lose It: Are You Moving Enough to Be Healthy and Fit?
- Solutions for Chronic Aches and Pains
Whether you are part of a church group, mom's group, support group, club, volunteer organization or business, we can tailor an event for you. Here is a list of some of the groups where we have done health event presentations in the past:
- Fidelity Investments
- City of Cincinnati - Water Works
- Empower MediaMarketing
- Cincinnati Health Department
- University of Cincinnati
- Forest Pharmaceuticals
- Walnut Hills High School
- Xavier University
- Fox 19 News
- KAO Brands
- Cincinnati Public Schools
Have a great month. Please contact me with questions or suggestions. I look forward to seeing you soon.