Should we strive for Madonna’s Abs?

The Truth Behind A Healthy Core

By Dr. RobinArmstrong, Vancouver Chiropractor

I was recently reading an article about Madonna’s personal trainer, and it got me thinking about the common misconceptions about abdominal strength.  Although my hopes are that the old fashioned sit up has left our gyms for good, after attending a cardio class at the Kitsilano community centre, I discovered that the public’s desire to do 100 crunches for a good workout is still alive and well.

Here are my tips for a healthy (and perhaps aesthetically pleasing) core:

  • Always maintain the curve in the low back.  Our spines were architecturally designed to carry a load.  Remove the architecture (the curve) and we become less structurally sound.
  •  Our legs are heavy! It is easier – and safer – to lift and carry a heavy box close to our body.  The same applies to our legs and our spine.  If we do ab exercises with our legs straight, it puts alot of unhealthy load on our spine, if we keep our knees bent, we diminish the load, but reap the returns.
  • Quality over quantity.  100 sit ups does not a healthy body make.  Choose safe and effective exercise over repetitive out dated exercise.  Here are two of my favourites
    • Front Plank: Lying on your stomache set up your elbows stacked under your shoulders, forearms on the floor.  Curl your toes under and lift your body so that you are parallel to the floor.  Do not let your hips pop up or sag down.  Hold for 30 secs.  Repeat
    • Side Plank:  Lying on your side, set up your elbow so that it is staked underneath your shoulder, forearm on the floor.  Set up your feet either a) Flexed, one foot stacked on top of the other, or b) Flexed, one foot in front of the other on the floor.  Lift your hips up so that your body is parallel to the floor. Do not tipforward or back, keep yourself perpendicular to the floor.  Hold for 30 secs.  Repeat. Switch sides.

Happy Exercising!