When you perform abdominal exercises, you expect your abs to be sore from the workout. This type of discomfort is a gentle reminder that you have challenged your muscles to respond. Some people feel pain in their lower back or pelvic areas after participating in core-strengthening exercises. This type of pain can be avoided with the use of a few training techniques. If a form adjustment does not change the discomfort, your pain may be a signal that it is time to see a doctor.
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Your pelvis connects the top half of your body, including your spine, to the bottom half of your body. It aids in your full body movements such as walking, sitting, and standing. In order for your pelvis to function properly, it relies on surrounding ligaments and tendons for support. If your ligaments are not supporting your pelvis and the pelvic muscles are weak, you may feel pain during ab exercises. This ligament weakening may occur after childbirth, or from an accident or injury to the pelvis.
Create a Balance
The area of your lower back is susceptible to pain. A muscular imbalance such as if your abdominal muscles are stronger than your back, may pull on your spine. As your spine struggles to maintain your posture, this added pressure can lead to fatigue in the lower back muscles. During ab exercises, your lower back may feel pain. This is due in part to your muscles attempting to control the lowering phase of a situp and not allowing you to fall quickly to the floor.
Flex Your Hips
Situps use the hip flexor muscles to perform the movement. Your hip flexors attach between your hips and the front of your lower spine. When these hip flexors are repeatedly strengthened and become tight, they may pull on your pelvis, creating a forward tilt to your lower back. This can result in pain. The type of floor surface is another possible cause of low back pain during a situp. If you practice situps on hard wood floor, your lower back likely will feel discomfort.
A situp can be modified with the use of a stability, or exercise, ball. This large inflated ball will provide a comfortable surface and support your spine during a traditional trunk curl. Using a stability ball also recruits your gluteals and hips to provide support to a weakened pelvis. Another option is a plank, or the upper position in a pushup. A plank can be held for a count of 10 and will also strengthen the abdominal muscles without endangering the lower back or requesting movement in the pelvis. Kegels are the most effective exercise for strengthening the pelvic floor. These involve a conscious tightening and releasing of the muscles surrounding your rectum. You can tighten your pelvic floor during abdominal workouts to provide additional support.
If your pelvic pain persists, seek the advice of your physician. Pelvic pain may be a sign of endometriosis, fibroid or prostate problems. Other reasons for pelvic pain include irritable bowel syndrome, urinary issues or simple inflammation of the pelvis from activity. These are all treatable concerns, so there is no need to suffer from the discomfort.