So I just got an email today about someone who’s been not doing abdominal crunches for three years based on low back pain, and now he’s getting stronger and he wants to try getting back to his normal push-ups and sit-up routine.
As soon as he went into performing the abdominal crunch, his hip flexors took over. And the question was,
“Is that normal, why are they taking over, and how do I modify to create the abdominal crunch without my hip flexors?”
Check out the video to see the demonstration and continue reading for the text of the video and answers to the questions…
So today what we’re going to do is use a towel. I’ve taken a bath towel, and I’ve folded it in three, and it’s lined up all the way from the sacrum to the crown of the head. Now, Brandi’s going to do an abdominal curl using the towel to pull and create length, while the back is really going to stay flat into my hand. Now, push into your feet, Brandi. Yeah. And then lower down. Now that is all that I want you to do. Pull the towel long, push into the feet, ribs and pelvis connect. And the six pack is going to work here, but the deep abdominals, pelvic floor, and everything else is working first. So, two more of those, Brandi. And the lift is this way. Yes. And last one. So this is how I would recommend doing a modified abdominal curl as you’re relearning to use your core without your hip flexors. And that’s it.
Now to answer the question of is this normal? And why are the hip flexors taking over?
It is normal when you have had a back injury and your spinal stabilizers (lumbar multifidus and transverse abdominus) stop working properly, encouraging your hip flexors to compensate, becoming tight and spasmodic. So the hip flexors become the default core muscles over time and have been for a long time in many situations. Even though we are turning them off manually in Physical Therapy and at home with the gold ball and relearning to use the weak muscles, those stubborn hip flexors are still very dominant and protective.
If you are suffering with low back pain or are unable to perform an abdominal curl due to pain or weakness, then it may be time to get looked at by an spinal expert with almost 2 decades of experience.
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