Tip: Never Do Twisting Sit-Ups

Stop it. You're just asking for trouble. Here's why.

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Many people do twisting sit-ups or crunches to target both the rectus abdominus (abs) and the obliques at the same time. Killing two birds with one stone? Makes perfect sense, but there's a problem.

When you do a sit-up – or a full crunch where your lower back doesn't stay flat on the ground – your lumbar spine rounds forward, which is called flexion. The problem is, spinal flexion puts a lot of pressure on the intervertebral discs. But there's one specific motion that's far more dangerous to discs than flexion: flexion combined with rotation. Unfortunately, that's the exact motion you're doing when you do sit-ups with a twist.

Flexion with rotation pushes the nucleus pulposus – the jellylike center – of the disc posterolateral (back and to the side), which is precisely where discs tend to herniate. Unless you actually want a herniated disc – and experience the numbness, tingling, and excruciating pain that goes with it – avoid sit-ups with a twist, or any spinal flexion combined with rotation.

Clay Hyght, DC, is a training and strength coach, sports nutritionist, and doctor of chiropractic. Dr. Hyght specializes in helping others build physiques that not only look good, but are also functional, healthy, and pain free. Follow Clay Hyght on Facebook