Abs Muscle - No More Sit-Up With a Twist

Abs Muscle - No More Sit-Up With a Twist

The sit-up with a twist is a popular exercise not only in bodybuilding, but also in aerobics. This exercise is responsible for many of the back problems frequent exercisers experience.

The sit-up with a twist targets two midsection muscle groups; the abdominals and the internal and external oblique. The rectus abdominals is a long vertical muscle that runs from the ribcage to the public bone, and the oblique are the angled muscles located on the front sides of the abdomen.

Because of the position of the spine when the twisting occurs, instead of being very effective, the sit-up with a twist is potentially a dangerous exercise. During a sit-up, the spine flexes (becomes rounded in a forward direction) so that the deepest, most anterior portion of the vertebrae move closer together. This action compresses the anterior portion of the discs, and most of the discs fluid is pushed to the outside. This fluid movement is made possible since the back, or outermost, portion of the vertebrae open up during the bending of the spine.

The greater the rounding of the spine, the more the vertebrae move together interiorly (in front) and therefore open up posterior (in back). This places great compressive forces on a very small portion of the discs closest to the center of the body. Instead of the full-size discs keeping the vertebrae separated, they're squeezed down into a small area, allowing the vertebrae to almost touch one another on the inner side of the spinal column.

When the spine is twisted in this rounded position, great shearing forces are created when the vertebrae rub together, which can rupture the discs. Although most of the compression and shearing forces occur in the lumbar portion of the spine, most of the rounding takes place in the thoracic area. Because the ribcage doesn't move or bend, the thoracic spine also has limited movement. As a result, the ribcage and rounding of the upper spine create even greater compression forces. During the twisting, the range of motion is limited since the thoracic spine must move as a unit because of the attached ribs.

The upper trunk is capable of minimal rotation, which limits muscle involvement. To get greater muscle action, the rotation must occur in the lumbar vertebrae, but if you rise up high enough to lift the lumbar spine off the floor, that part of the spine will also flex. Then when the rotation takes place, disc compression occurs in both the lumbar and thoracic positions of the spine, and the lumbar area receives additional shearing forces.

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