Cross Training

The End of Crunches?

The End of Crunches?

In my recent studies, I have come across some intriguing  information on the safest way to train your core muscles.  According to Stuart McGill, a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, the core muscles should be trained for stability while flexion and hyperextension of the lumbar spine should be avoided.  He found through his research, that common exercises like crunches can lead to disc herniation.  It is best to train for spinal stability with exercises such as plank, side plank, bird dog, and McGill’s curl up exercise. 

I have trained many clients over the years and the most common problem I have seen is low back pain.  Having clients exacerbate these problems while doing common core exercises is what led me to find a better way of training their core.  Stability exercises appear to be the answer I was looking for.  Several of my clients who have back problems have responded well to the new exercises and have less back pain.  I hope to at least make you think the next time you decide to do crunches. 

We may find in the future that this approach is a bit on the conservative side, but isn’t having a pain free back worth it? 

Learn more about Stuart McGill at

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This post was written by:

- who has written 2 posts on Trail Running Club.

Michael Sotos is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who resides in Ashland, Oregon. He has been working in the fitness industry for the past decade and holds a degree in business from the University of Oregon. He is a personal fitness coach at several local gyms and also serves as the strength coach for the Southern Oregon University volleyball team.

Living in Southern Oregon provides him with abundant opportunities to run and race on trails. A strong contingent of ultra runners in Ashland, including Hal Koerner of Rogue Valley Runners, have inspired Michael to race several ultra marathons.

Rogue Valley Fitness

• NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
• ACE Certified Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist
• ACE Certified Personal Trainer
• USA Weightlifting Level 1 Sports Performance Coach
• Functional Movement Screen Certified
• USA Track and Field Level 1 Coach
• USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach

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