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I've got to stop reading the newspaper. I made the mistake of taking Dr. Donohue's advice about a month ago. A reader wrote in about his gaining a pot belly that only showed when he stood, not when he was supine, even though he was about the correct weight. Dr. Donohue reminded the reader that in addition to being the correct weight, he needed strong abdominal muscle to hold his intestines in place and that crunches wold be a good way of strengthening his abdominal muscles.
So, since I have a bit of a bulge also, I thought that was good advice. I am about the correct weight,(BMI 24; 5'10", 165#) although I weigh about 10 pounds more than I did in high school 50 years ago. In addition, I have had several abdominal surgeries that weakened the muscles. Although I run twice a week, I don't do a specific exercise for my abdominal muscles.
Crunches are not a good idea! Specifically, they are a bad for people with back pain. I knew that. I even wrote that in the book. I tell patients the same thing in the office. As I point out in one of the appendices, I have several herniated disks and lumbar stenosis. I have undergone two back surgeries. Well, my stomach is slightly stronger. Still no six pack, though. But my back is way worse.
Every time you do a crunch, or a partial or complete sit-up, you tighten all your abdominal muscles and back muscles. This has the effect of pulling your head toward your feet, squeezing vertebrae closer together. The end result is your discs bulge more and any stenosis is worse.
This episode will take about two weeks to blow over. Relative rest, some Aleve, some ice, and some time and I'll be back to my normal self. Guess I'll have to cut down on the calories and/or rely more on the Side-bridge, Cat-camel, or Bird-dog exercises to strengthen my abdominals. You should, too, if you have lower back pain.