A physical therapist told me that the best way to strengthen abdominal muscles was just to “suck in your stomach and hold it,” several times. And that does work, but when we want strong and flat abdominal muscles, we often think of sit-ups.
Here are a few reasons why they may not be the exercise-of-choice for you.
When you do sit-ups, it’s easy to aggravate your neck and upper back. This can cause neck pain and or headaches.
Sit-ups strengthen the upper abdominals. When the upper abs are tight, they can pull us into forward-head posture. “Forward-head posture” means that when we are standing up, our head is in front of our body instead of over our shoulders. Not good, for many reasons.
It’s easier and less potentially aggravating to strengthen your lower abdominals, instead.
This is how to get into position: Start on your back with your knees bent and pointed toward the ceiling. Lift, or move, your knees toward your head, so that your shins (lower legs) are perpendicular to the floor. Now you are ready for the strengthening movement.
Note: Your head will be resting comfortably and will never leave the floor during the movement.
This is how to do the movement: Using only your lower ab muscles, not your legs or hips, move your knees closer to your chin. That’s it. Your tail bone may lift or roll slightly upward, off the floor or mat. Go back to the position where your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Repeat.
Isolating the lower abdominal muscles can be a very interesting thing for a lot of people. They want to do this move with their hip muscles.
If you place your hand on your lower abdomen, between your belly button and pubic bone (and closer to the pubic bone), those are the muscles you want to contract–make tight–when you move your knees closer to your chin. It’s okay to practice with your hand pressed lightly there until you learn to isolate the lower ab muscles.
Do only two or three movements for the first few days. Your newly awakened muscles may get sore from over-use if you do more. After a few days, you may add one or two a day and gradually work up to ten movements once or twice a day.
Always pay attention to your body and move thoughtfully.
And, remember, if you work on strengthening your back side, from knees to head, those muscles will hold you straight, strong and upright and your belly won’t pouch out like it will if you have forward-head posture.
“Because You Deserve To Feel Better!”