Ask any professional bodybuilder this question: When you're
onstage during a competition, what's the most important muscle
group to showcase to the judges? Now here's the response you'll
most often hear: abdominals. Chiseled arms, legs and pectorals
might be impressive, but if the abdominals aren't equally
impressive, chances are you won't be crowned Mr. or Ms. Olympia
Firm, defined abdominal muscles are considered important
on an asthetic level, but research also points to their value
in promoting wellness, specifically by protecting the low
back from injury. Case in point: a study in the journal Physical
Therapy, in which eight healthy men with no prior incidence
of low back injury or back pain performed four different abdominal
(curl-up) exercises. One exercise involved a stable surface
(curl-ups on a padded bench with the knees flexed); three
other exercises utilized varying moveable surfaces (feet flat
on floor, torso supported over a gym ball; feet on bench at
the same height as the ball; and feet flat on the floor, ball
replaced with a round wobble board).
Results: Performing the curl-up exercise on any of
the three moveable surfaces appeared to increase abdominal
muscle activity compared with exercise using a stable surface,
most likely the result of the increased need to enhance spine
stability and whole-body stability to reduce the risk of falling
off the moveable surface.
So keep those abs in shape! You'll look better, feel better,
and you'll be protecting the abdominal muscles, the low back
and the spine against injury. Ask your doctor of chiropractic
for more information.
Vera-Garcia FJ, Grenier SG, McGill SM. Abdominal muscle response
during curl-ups on both stable and labile surfaces. Physical
Therapy, June 2000: Vol. 80, No. 6, pp564-69.
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