stuart mcgill & core strength

MORE SITUPS AND CRUNCHES FOR A STRONGER CORE?

No Situps Crunches

I see too many ruined backs from those who believed they were immune from spine flexion during the deep squat or clean, including some of the trainers and coaches themselves. A few lucky ones are. It’s unfortunate how many former athletes tell me they wish they listened earlier and made wiser choices Dr. Stuart McGill from an interview with Chad of T-Nation.
When it comes to core strength, Dr. Stuart McGill is the man to listen to.  Dr. McGill has been a Professor of Spinal Biomechanics at Waterloo University in Canada for over thirty yearsIn the same way that my life’s mission is to Destroy Chronic Pain, McGill has made it part of his life’s mission to destroy the sacred cows of core strength — the foremost being that the situp and the crunch are beneficial.  He is the guy, who for years, has been telling anyone who would listen, to avoid situps and crunches because they put huge amounts of mechanical stress on the spine that ultimately lead to Disc Herniations.  Although I had been hearing this message for years, it went in one ear and out the other — I thought that the exercises that he suggested looked “sissy“.  Sissy did not matter when I started having HIP FLEXOR problems.

I was doing huge numbers of crunches of all sorts.  And honestly, I had (I thought) good abdominal strength.  Through a fluke, I noticed that when I took a week off of the gym, the hip pain went away.  A dear friend, lower extremity / foot biomechanist, and pedorthist Shawn Eno of Xtreme Footwerks, told me that I should talk to a person he knew who was a BIOMECHANICS expert.  I did, and the results of the changes that I made have been nothing short of amazing (I had something called “LOWER CROSSED SYNDROME“).

What does Dr. McGill recommend?  He wants you to stay out of trunk flexion (bending forward) and keep your back arched while doing core exercises.   Unless you are a serious athlete, you will not need more than what I show you in the link below.  In fact, if there were only one single exercise that you could do for core strength, it would have to be side planks.  I have lots of pictures of Core Strengthening Exercises — HERE.

My core strength routine consists of nothing but five minutes of so, three or four times a week, of Planks, Side Planks, Stir the Pot, and Bird Dogs.  I even do some ball crunches while keeping my lower back in extension (sway back position).  Oh; and I also do some KETTLEBELL SWINGS as well.  My core is stronger than its ever been, and I am doing a fraction of the work.  Oh, and no more hip flexor pain!

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