Posted by: Chloey | 2009/02/02

Hurt abs

Hi doc. I' m 33 years old and mother of 2. I have a desk job, and the most exercise I used to get in a day is talking the stairs to my office (on the second floor). This year I joined a gym to get more fit. I start with the exercise bike for 20 minutes, then afterwards I do some light weights. A week ago I hurt my stomach muscles by using the machine where you pull your legs to your body, and also the 90 degree stomach crush machine. I think I pushed myself to hard.
I only realised that I hurt myself the following morning when I couldn' t get myself to sit up in bed. It' s been a couple of days now where I can' t even do one normal sit-up. It feels as if I hurt the lower part of my stomach muscles.
What do I do? Should I leave out sit-ups and stomach crunches from my exercise routine for now? Or should I keep trying to do the stomach exercises? I don' t want to cause myself more harm.
I also realise that the problem was caused by me not stretching. So another question is, how do I stretch my abs before exercise?


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Our expert says:
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Hi Chloey

Sorry about the injury - those stomach muscle strains can be a real problem. Unfortunately, they're in an awkward spot and impossible to rehab effectively, so you kind of just have to rest and avoid aggravating them further.

You'll find that it's a nagging problem, but that once it starts to heal, it fixes itself up quickly. So for now, leave out what you can't do, and just give it time. If you force it, then you just delay the healing.

As for the stretching, I'd suggest you do a few light ab exercises. You have to stretch and warmup dynamically. Those static stretches you do for other muscles are not really very effective anyway. So the best is a very gradual easing into the training session - a walk, a jog, a couple of light exercises, and then get going on the real thing.

Good luck

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