Sit-Ups Not Recommended for Low Back Pain

Patients will often ask me what the best exercises to do for low back pain. Oftentimes, they fail to ask which exercises would be best to omit from the programme. If certain exercises help to relieve back pain, then there are others which may slow recovery or predispose to reoccurrence. If you suffer from low back pain and are wondering what exercises to do to help then I would suggest omitting sit-ups from your programme. Sit-ups are an extremely common exercise; however, in terms of back pain prevention & improving movement quality they are of questionable benefit.
Most people these days spend too much time sitting at a desk in a slouched position. The last thing these individuals require is to reinforce this rounded posture by performing sit-ups at home or in the gym. I often find extremely poor core stability in individuals who perform this exercise on a regular basis. Such individuals can barely hold their legs up while maintaining a neutral spine despite all the ‘core’ work the individual may be doing on a regular basis.
This overactivation of superficial abdominal muscles without activating the deep stabilising muscles can encourage the development of low back pain & instability.