Abdominal Exercises

1
Abdominal Muscles

Photo of a woman doing a plank with a toddler on her back.
Keeping your abs working can help you deal with what life throws at you. Getty Images


The abdominal muscles are made up of four muscle groups. These muscles are the rectus abdominus, transversus abdominus, internal oblique, and external oblique muscles. This group of muscles help to stabilize the trunk, provide organ stability, and assist in flexion and rotation of the trunk.

Strengthening these muscles helps support the body's frame and may decrease back pain and injuries. By keeping your abdominals strong, you can help support your back and limit the amount of stressed placed upon your spine.

If you have back pain, check in with your physical therapist and learn what you can do to comprehensively treat your pain. Your PT can help you find the best exercises for you, and he or she can help you attain and maintain good posture to keep your spine in its optimal position.

Before starting any exercise program for your back, you must check in with your doctor to ensure that exercise is safe for you to do.

2
Abdominal Crunches

Crunches are a great way to strengthen your core muscles without placing too much stress on your lower back and spine. Here is how you do a proper crunch:

  1. Lie on your back
  2. Bend your knees to a comfortable position
  3. Lock your fingers behind your head or cross your arms in front of your chest
  4. Curl your head, shoulders, and upper back off the floor
  5. Keep your lower back in contact with the floor; you should only rise up a few inches
  6. Breathe out as you rise
  7. Hold this position for 3 seconds
  8. Slowly return to starting position
  9. Repeat 10 more times

If you feel any back pain while you are performing the crunch, you must stop and check in with your doctor or physical therapist

3
Low Ab Leg Raises

The low abdominal leg raise is a challenging, but effective, way to strength your lower abdominal muscles. Here is how you get it done:

  • Lie on your back
  • Bend your knees to 15 degrees
  • Contract your abdominal muscles to lift your feet off the floor in an arc like motion
  • Lift your feet about 10 inches up
  • Slowly (in the same arc like motion) return your legs/feet to the floor
  • Repeat 10 more times

Be cautious to avoid any strain to your lower back while performing this exercise. If you do feel pain, stop and check in with your personal physician.

4
Twisting Sit Ups

These twisting sit ups are a great way to get your obliques into the action and working properly. Here is how you do them:

  1. Lie on your back
  2. Bend your knees to a comfortable position
  3. Lock your fingers behind your head
  4. Curl your head, shoulders, upper and lower back off the floor and angle your left elbow toward your right knee
  5. Breathe out as you lift
  6. Hold this position for 5 seconds
  7. Slowly return to starting position
  8. Curl your head, shoulders, upper and lower back off the floor and angle your right elbow toward your left knee
  9. Hold this position for 5 seconds
  10. Again, breathe out as you lift
  11. Slowly return to starting position
  12. Repeat 10 more times alternating your twisting motion

Keeping your abs working properly is a great way to stay in shape, and by regularly exercising and maintaining proper posture for your back, you may be able to stave off any attacks of back pain or sciatica.

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