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Get the most out of your abdominal workouts

July 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Sit-ups and crunches are great ways to workout abdominal muscles, but if you're doing them wrong, you're wasting your time.At first glance, it appears to be something you'd order on late night TV, yet the AB-Inforcer might surprise you. It claims to guide your movements so you're not wasting your time in the gym.

"It's a generic orthotic for the spine and it uses light, sound and vibration to let you know if you're doing your core exercises properly," explained Lee Brandon, the creator of the AB-Inforcer.

Brandon says it can stretch, strengthen and rehabilitate your body's core using sensory cues.

"It's the ultimate musical instrument for the spine," said Brandon.

At 17 years old, Brandon had an accident that nearly amputated her arm. So, she took up guitar as a form of hand to brain bio-feedback. Years later as a strength trainer and golf champion, she developed the machine with the same principles in mind.

"It uses three points of stability the same way that the guitar provides vibration and sound," she described.

The motto is, "Turn your lights on."

The head and spine are placed on sensors with buzzers. Monitor lights show if the abdominal muscles are firing correctly or not.

This machine won't lie, which is something physical therapists and doctors appreciate.

"The thing about it is, people cheat. They're going to start using their neck muscles. When they're trying to do sit- ups, their head is trying to pull their body," said Alex Youssefian, a physical therapist with U.S. Health Works.

In other words, you can do 100 crunches, but if you're doing them wrong, you're wasting your time.

Even athletes sometimes perform core exercises improperly.

"Many times in yoga or Pilates, they're doing a flat back on the floor routine so there's no lordotic arch anymore, which is vital to maintaining spinal health. You have to have the lordotic curve while you're performing the exercises," emphasized Dr. Joseph Sullivan, a chiropractor.

"If you're not sure where to do that exercise or where to benefit the spine the best, then what happens is that it winds up only training the strong component of your body. So what's strong gets stronger and what's weak gets weaker," explained Brandon.

"One thing we all have in common is the bending and the lifting. So, the spine ultimately needs to be retrained to hold onto neutral and turn on the correct core stabilizers," Brandon added.

To own one, you'll have to pay about $595. It's pricey, yet some fitness professionals and gyms are putting them into their program. This machine might just be the ticket to prevent injuries down the road.


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