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Old 11-30-2008, 02:48 PM   #1
Christopher G. Woods
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Why do GHD situps hurt my lower back?

For some reason high rep GHD situps kill my lower back (sets of 20 or more), and I don't know why. I do three sets of ten in my regular warmup, so I do them almost every time that I walk into the gym with no problem. It's not a form issue either. I had some form problems when I first started doing them, which resulted in a psoas injury. I've since put a lot of work into perfecting form on them, correcting the roller position and ensuring that I fire the quads and lockout my knees on the up. However, anytime I have to do a high volume of GHD situps in a WOD, my lower back starts singing by the end of the second set. I can't figure it out and it ****es me off, because it kills my times on a lot of workouts.
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Old 11-30-2008, 03:18 PM   #2
Nick Lavato
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Re: Why do GHD situps hurt my lower back?

I have no answer for you, but the same thing happens to me. It was especially fun on Mr. Joshua the other day...30 GHD's straight to the 250# dead lifts. I'm listening in for an answer.
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Old 11-30-2008, 04:07 PM   #3
James Withington
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Re: Why do GHD situps hurt my lower back?

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Originally Posted by Christopher G. Woods View Post
For some reason high rep GHD situps kill my lower back (sets of 20 or more), and I don't know why. I do three sets of ten in my regular warmup, so I do them almost every time that I walk into the gym with no problem. It's not a form issue either. I had some form problems when I first started doing them, which resulted in a psoas injury. I've since put a lot of work into perfecting form on them, correcting the roller position and ensuring that I fire the quads and lockout my knees on the up. However, anytime I have to do a high volume of GHD situps in a WOD, my lower back starts singing by the end of the second set. I can't figure it out and it ****es me off, because it kills my times on a lot of workouts.
Whilst focusing on form and keeping the knees locked out etc is important and it does limit the force with which psoas major pulls on the lumbar spine to an extent, it doesn't eliminate this force altogether. Regardless of how good your form is, there is still going to be a large amount hip flexion involved, of which the psoas muscles are prime movers. You aren't going to eliminate that factor fully if you are doing GHD situps with full ROM. Personally, I don't know anyone for whom GHD situps don't suck.

With your form, I would say focus on controlling the movement on the way down and up. Don't let yourself swing/drop down on the downward portion of the movement, as the deceleration at the bottom will put a lot of eccentric loading on your psoas muscle, and force it to tug pretty hard on the lumbar spine where it originates. Obviously, taking it slowly and smoothly is kinda counterintuitive in the middle of a timed WOD, that's why I'm personally not a fan of using high rep GHD situps in timed workouts. Also, do plenty of stretching of the hip flexors if you don't already.

What is your flexibility in your lumbar spine like? It could also simply be that putting your lumbar spine into a hyper-extended position like a GHD situp does puts the joints and soft tissue of your lumbar spine into a position in which it isn't comfortable. If the pain you are getting feels like it is on the posterior side of your spine then it could be that you are putting a lot of pressure/stress on the facet joints between your lumbar spinous processes. If the pain feels like it is on the anterior side it could be stretching of the anterior longitudinal ligament that is causing the discomfort.

Cliff Notes version: dunno, could be all sorts of things!
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Old 11-30-2008, 04:08 PM   #4
Skip Chase
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Re: Why do GHD situps hurt my lower back?

I could be wrong, but I think most people have tight hip flexor muscles caused by too much sitting and hip flexion.

One of the hip flexors, the Psoas Major, originates anterior lumbar vertabrae(the front of your lumbar spine) and attaches to the femur. Some of the discomfort is caused by the 'stretch' experienced at the origination of the psoas major and 'forward pull' of the vertabrae.

I experienced the same discomfort when I began performing the exercise 3 years ago. I consistently perform ghd sit-ups with my warm-up and the discomfort has been eliminated.

www.mtbakercrossfit.com
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Old 11-30-2008, 04:10 PM   #5
Skip Chase
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Re: Why do GHD situps hurt my lower back?

Good answer James.....we posted at the same time.
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Old 11-30-2008, 04:11 PM   #6
Donald Lee
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Re: Why do GHD situps hurt my lower back?

Your answer is in here:

http://www.cathletics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2826 (wfs)
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Old 12-01-2008, 12:07 PM   #7
Christopher G. Woods
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Re: Why do GHD situps hurt my lower back?

Okay, so far we've got a resounding "I don't know".

Donald- Thanks for the link, but all the strategies in there are things that I already do.

James- As far as I know, my lumbar flexibility is fine. I have a minor scoliosis, but nothing that has ever caused me problems (the only reason I'm even aware of it is that I used to work for a chiropractor). Honestly, GHD situps are the only thing that's ever caused me back pain in my entire life. The pain itself is very acute. It's a sharp shooting pain across the top of the hips that occurs when I'm about 20% from fully upright, and only on the way up.
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Old 12-01-2008, 01:37 PM   #8
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Re: Why do GHD situps hurt my lower back?

Chris -

My guess would be that it's simply a matter of the psoas fatiguing during the high rep sets - a tired/weak muscle is a tight muscle. So that fatigue-induced tightness may be causing the back pain just as tightness in general would cause it, which would explain why you're not experiencing it with your lower-volume sit-ups.
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