Core exercise advice: Be nice to your spine!

Many people are asking me about how to train their core and how to perform different twisting exercises.

My suggestion regarding twisting exercises is to avoid them unless they have been suggested after the consideration of a professional trainer.  Twisting exercises can put your lower back in danger.  Just as with all exercises bad technique can lead to injuries very quickly, especially with twisting involved.

I have read an excellent article about it by Joseph M. Horrigan; Published in IRONMAN Magazine, June 1991.  Updated by author, May 2007.

This great article explains how the lumbar spine works and why it is not designed to do lots of twisting motions.   Especially when seated twisting performed with weights can quickly deteriorate your disc in your lumbar spine.

This is how Horrigan explains seated twists:

“…. Because of this the pelvis cannot rotate with the spine as it is supposed to do naturally.  Since your arms and back may be braced, depending on which machine you’re using, the rotational demand is on your lower back, and it is excessive.  This creates a shearing force on the disks of the lumbar vertebrae. The outer, fibrous layers of a disk can begin to fray or tear.  “

 “There are safer ways to train your abs, and there are safe ways to reduce your body fat by dieting.  Remember that not all the exercises you see performed in the gym are beneficial.  Even more important is the fact that there are a few exercises that are actually harmful and can alter forever your ability to train.  Train smarter—not just harder.”

Through my personal experience I can fully agree to his warning and advice.  It is always good idea to ask a Personal Trainer before starting a new exercise.