Why Crunches & Sit-Ups are Horrible for Your Back

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By Injury Specialist & Kinesiologist Rick Kaselj, MS.

The sit-up or more particularly, the ‘crunch’ has been an exercise staple for decades. Proponents of the crunch touted it as the ideal workout for building six-pack abdominals and ridding the stomach of excess fat. Because as far back as the 1940s fitness ‘gurus’ in fitness centers, on tv and in magazines recommended that the crunch used a fast lane to a lean, distinct mid-section.

And for almost as long, the real fitness experts have been stating “No, no no ….. the crunch does none of those things and is in truth, an awful exercise that increases the danger of injury– particularly the back.” Let’s have a look and see which viewpoint is right.

We’ll start by taking an appearance at the crunch movement to get a much better point of view. There are an almost limitless range of ways to perform the crunch however amongst all of them, the fundamental motions are basically the very same. Next, curl the shoulders towards the hips with the lower back remaining on the floor.

Crunches can be more difficult by: positioning the feet up on a bench with the back on the floor; performing the movement on a medicine ball; carrying out the movement on a decrease bench; twisting the torso during the up motion; or perhaps by positioning a weight plate, kettle bell or dumbbell on the chest to make the up movement more difficult.

While in theory the crunch is viewed to be an easy, fairly safe exercise, this is not necessarily the reality.

The problem is that many people do not perform the movement correctly, putting them at risk for injury. The threat and likelihood of injury increases tremendously as the crunch movement is made more complex or challenging by including weights, medicine ball or other apparatuses.

You may be wondering how I’m certified to answer that concern and I don’t blame you for asking. For the past sixteen years I’ve been working with customers as an Injury Specialist and I’ve given over 315 live presentations to over 6065 healthcare and physical fitness specialists across Canada and the USA. My work has been featured in a few of the media outlets below.


Sure qualifications are great however real world experience with my own customers has actually shown me the specifics about why the crunch can be dreadful for your back.

Let’s first take a look at the factors that keep the spinal column healthy and without discomfort. A strong core is important to a healthy back. Weak core muscles can increase the risk of lower back injury and discomfort. Strong core muscles lower the danger for lower pain in the back by helping you to preserve right posture and decrease strain on your spine. Poor posture can also result in neck and back pain.

Unfortunately, crunches only work the surface area muscles, not the deeper core muscles beneath.

This is an issue for two factors. First, this develops an imbalance in between weak and strong muscles with the most essential muscles– the inner ones– being overlooked. And while the outer muscles may look good, they do nothing to secure the stability or integrity of the spine. Second, strong external muscles covering weak core muscles provide an incorrect sense of security, considerably increasing the threat of back injury.

Crunches likewise increase the risk of back injury by enhancing bad habits that result in bad posture. Some individuals have a tendency to try and flatten their spinal column versus the flooring or the bench when performing crunches. The spine is curved for a reason– forcing it into an abnormal position increases the danger for injury.

Other bad crunch habits that can cause bad posture consist of tucking the butt under or holding in the abs during the movement. All three of these common bad habits compromise the natural stability of the spinal kind.

Nerve damage is another potential effect of too many crunches. The crunch motion puts an unhealthy strain on the back ideal at its weakest point, which coincidentally is the area which contains the most nerves. Damage to this weak area of the spinal column can lead to serious, persistent pain that can last a lifetime and prevent movement and flexibility.

Lastly, crunches consistently flex and extend the spinal column, which is consisted of a series of interconnected discs. Much like any piece of complex machinery, the spine discs undergo wear and tear– in other words, they are only able to support a specific number of bending motions throughout a lifetime.

Subjecting the spinal discs to the excessive wear and tear of crunches can decrease the ‘service life’ of spinal discs and lead to nerve damage, a disc bulge or disc herniation, all of which are hard to treat.

An evaluation of the truths reveals that undoubtedly, crunches can be extremely bad for the back. While they do have some advantages, the risks of injury and neck and back pain far exceeds any prospective gains. If your goal is establish six-pack abdominals and strengthen your core, there are much better, more efficient and safer choices offered.

“But I’ve Been Doing Sit-Ups for several years!… Now What?”.

If you’ve been crunching and doing sit-ups for many years and have any degree of neck and back pain don’t feel absolutely frustrated. I have actually coordinated with Critical Bench to release a quick & easy 10-minute pre and post workout regimen you can follow to reverse the damage.

Dealing with back pain in general even if it’s mild usually times includes unlimited cycles of visits, investigations, stretching and enhancing.

After having hundreds of my customers go through this run-around, with minimal success, it has actually led to the development of the BR3 Method which is based upon one essential concept: Reshaping your lower back from an unpleasant lower back to a pain-free lumbar spine, which I’ll tell you more about on the next page.



  • If you are only trying to find a service to the signs instead of the root problems of your neck and back pain, then this is NOT for you.
  • If you are encouraged that surgical treatment is your only option at this point, you don’t require to check out any further.
  • If you are searching for some wonder medication drug to eliminate your pain in the back and get you back to discomfort complimentary exercises, then this is NOT for you.
  • If you don’t mind resting on the couch and missing out on your exercises and other activities, living the rest of your life in pain this is NOT for you.

Nevertheless, if you’re all set to take control of your discomfort or prevent it altogether and what you’re currently doing isn’t helping, you’re in great hands.

I help professional athletes and serious fitness lovers return to what they want instead of telling them to stop training and preventing what injures. Sound great?

Here’s What You Should Do Next…

If you ‘d like to get away a significant blowout and repair your back in simply minutes… so you can return to your 100% intensity pain-free exercises without feeling bullied into visits, medications or going under the knife, I have some fantastic suggestions for you on the next page.