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Five Exercises You Must Master Before You Crunch Your Abs

five exercises

Five Exercises You Must Master Before You Crunch Your Abs

It may seem like I’m jumping the gun, but the middle of February is the perfect time to start thinking about building up your summer bod – especially if you’ve injured your spine.  I decided to share five exercises that, if you have a back injury, you must master before you begin a more aggressive workout.

If you’re recovering from a back injury, it is crucial that you not jump into tummy crunches and ab building exercises without first building your core muscles. Here’s why.

Core muscles in your back, the REAL core muscles in your back, are called multifidi. They are about the size of your thumb and surround your spine at the vertebral level.  They are postural muscles – muscles whose job it is to hold your spine strong, and they are easily atrophied when you injure your back.


When your multifidi are atrophied, your big movers – quadratus lumborum, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, iliopsoas – try to take the job of the multifidi. The problem with that is that they are “movers.” They are not suited to delicate, nuanced tasks like holding your spine steady day in and day out.  They end up pulling too hard, pulling your spine out of alignment, and causing more injury.

So, it’s crucial to build the multifidi back up after a back injury before you try to flatten your tummy for the summer.

Because core postural muscles are difficult to activate consciously (they work automatically, without your conscious input), we have to perform exercises that are subtle, repetitive, and slow, on order to build them back up.

These five exercises come from WebExercises® an online rehabilitation service to which my chiropractic patients have access. These five exercises will help you get your core strength back so that you can safely move on to more aggressive stomach exercises.

Start the first week doing 1 set of 10 a day. The next week, move to 2 sets of 10. The third week, 3 sets of 10. Increase like this for six weeks. Don’t forget to change the order in which you do the exercises every week.

At the end of six weeks – especially if you’re receiving chiropractic care — your core should be strong enough to move on to more challenging exercises.

Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Pelvic Tilt


Bird Dog


McKenzie Extension – Beginner

Bird Dog on Stability Ball

Prone Cross Crawl