Most professionals will tell you that building muscle strength (especially in your core) is one of the keys to minimizing back pain.

After all, a strong, healthy and well-developed core gives you the strength you need to carry your weight.

As long as you’re mindful of how you move your body, it will help minimize your chance of injury.

Most people talk about your “core” as if it were one singular thing but it’s not. In fact, your core actually contains sixteen different groups of muscles, and they’re all important.  Unfortunately, too many people rely on one or two simple exercises designed to target their core and call it done.  Crunches are one of the most common exercises used to tone muscles in that area, and that’s a problem.

There are a couple of different issues with crunches, and an overreliance on them might be doing as much harm as good.

While it’s true that any form of exercise (crunches included) is of at least some benefit, crunches are a bit outdated and they only focus on your abdominals.  While your abdominals are an important part of your core musculature, they’re only one of the aforementioned sixteen muscle groups.

The real issue then, is that if you develop and define one specific muscle group, but don’t pay attention to the others surrounding it, you’re asking for trouble.

Those muscle groups don’t operate independently of each other, but are designed to work as a cohesive whole.  If the other surrounding muscle groups are significantly weaker and less-developed, they’re not going to be up to the same rigors that your abs can handle, and that’s going to cause muscle strain, and sometimes sprains.

In addition to that, it’s going to impact the way you move your body in subtle ways, which can see you twisting or turning incorrectly, which can easily cause or exacerbate back pain.  Not a happy situation.

By all means, exercise!  Just when you do so, be sure you’re paying attention to all your major muscle groups.