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August 13, 2007

Abdominal Exercises

I saw a commercial on TV for the Bender Ball, developed by Leslee Bender, designed to work the abdominal muscles. And I thought "hmmm, wouldn't my regular sized exercise ball do the same thing?" So I thought I would try it and it worked. I was able to achieved the greater range of motion with my exercise ball than on the floor. I figured I did just enough exercise because my abdominals didn't hurt the next day but I could feel them whenever I moved.

Then another question occurs to me: Why are the abdominal so much weaker than the low back muscles? After researching the reasons why, I was surprised by the answer. All the sit-ups in the world won't do you any good if the opposing muscle group is too tight. Also, reduced nerve and blood supply, as evidenced by tenderness in the inner thigh muscles, prevent the abdominals from gaining the strength they need to support the low back. And while this doesn't directly answer my question, it gives me an idea of an exercise that can help with strengthening the inner thigh.

I actually mostly use my exercise ball as a chair for my massage office. Sitting on an exercise ball, your body is constantly making small adjustments with the postural muscles, abdominals, gluteal muscles and leg muscles. It is "active sitting" rather than the slumping and poor posture we develop even in ergonomic desk chairs. I probably don't use it right because I don't feel that it has improved my abdominal tone or balance.

Effective exercises for strengthening all four abdominal muscle groups include:
• Hollowing – the abdominal muscles are pulled back towards the spine, so that the
abdomen hollows under the ribcage.
• Bracing – the abdominal muscles are flattened and flared, so that the waist looks a little
wider.
• Slow speed – research shows that performing abdominal exercises slowly (such as one
repetition per two or three seconds) uses the stabilising muscles more than if the same
exercises are performed quickly (such as one repetition per second).

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Posted by linda at August 13, 2007 7:16 AM

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