The Ab Revolution Core Retraining Method
No More Crunches No More Back Pain
This sports medicine method teaches:
- How Your Core Really Works,
- How to Fix Swayback / Too Much Inward Lumbar Curve (Hyperlordosis)
- How to Fix Lower Back Pain Felt from Standing, Walking, Running, Exercising,
- Core Function and Exercise That Transfers to Real Life When Standing, Moving, Having Fun,
- High Core Exercise Without Forward Bending and Disc Stress
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The Ab Revolution is a researched sports medicine modality. It was given the non-medical-sounding name of Ab Revolution when laboratory research showed that standard core exercises and explanation of core function were the reverse of what really happens. The method became a revolution in core training a change in thinking of how core muscles work and what they do, in using them in real life, and understanding their relation to a common form of back pain.
The Ab Revolution retrains you to prevent swayback (hyperlordosis / increased lumbar curve / overarched lower spine), and all the facet joint and lower back pain that results from that overarched spine position. Back pain from overarching is usually felt during and after activities done standing (upright) like running, waiting in line, standing to lift weights and others, plus other overarched positions during pushups and many yoga poses. Changing spine angle - away from the overarched pinched compressed spine position of hyperlordosis to neutral spine - stops this kind of pain, usually right then. Using healthy neutral spine for all your daily life activities instead of slouching into hyperlordosis prevents the pain from returning. This doesn't mean holding rigid immobile neutral spine. It allows greater range of motion, while preventing unhealthy, pinched, degenerating pain producing positioning. The idea is to be able to do more, not less.
The Ab Revolution also has core strength and endurance components. This method trains your abdominal and core muscles without crunches or forward bending. Why? Crunches and other flexion movements don't teach or train you to hold neutral spine, which is the function of core muscles for real daily life standing and movement. Core muscles do not position your spine automatically through strengthening or other core exercises. Strengthening does not create movement. Crunches, leg lifts, Pilates, and forward bending exercises and stretches are the last thing you need after a day of bending forward over a desk, steering wheel, and everything else. With this core retraining method, you functionally exercise abdominal and back muscles at the same time. The Ab Revolution is not a set of exercises, but retraining body and thinking for healthy life, exercise, and real health during your real life. When else should you be healthy?
Training and certification is available from Dr. Bookspan, through the Academy See my CLASS page.
Thank you physicians, military, good students of the July 2010 Ab Revolution class at the Wilderness Medicine Conference.
Thank you AFEM academy developmental projects director Peggy Santamaria for making the banner.
History of This Method
I started documenting my work developing this method in the 1970s, from students and patients who used it. Results were high. I continued collecting data. I did more studies testing the results, and printed the first training manual (typed actually, from hand printed notes) in 1982. I did injury research work for University and Military in preventing back pain from running and carrying loads. Disease Non-Battle Injuries (DNBI) from exercising in the gym and doing PT is a huge military issue - grounding far more personnel than combat casualty. I ran several more studies on overarching (hyperlordosis), confirming it is a major overlooked cause of lower back pain.
My method shows how to understand and reverse the cause of pain for yourself, through simple repositioning to neutral spine, away from the pain producing overarching (hyperlordosis). Weeks of exercises and repeated treatments were not needed. This method stops the cause of the pain, rather than treating symptoms. It was unexpected news to some who have been taught to overarch in the gym, and who deliberately tilt the hip and backside far out in back for exercise. But it was welcome relief for my guys who liked to joke that they were my STRACguys - combat slang for 'stupid troops running around in circles.
My life's work to stop pain during life activity and conventional exercises from injurious spine position became the book Ab Revolution, No More Crunches No More Back Pain, so that you don't have to suffer any more.
The book went through several printings to improve layout, explanation, and photos.
The new book has two parts. The first shows how to stop back pain during daily life activity, both non-active and active, including standing, carrying packages and babies, walking and running. The second part shows how to change core exercise to more effective and healthy ways.
1. What is the Ab Revolution?
The Ab Revolution is a revolutionary core re-training method—no crunches or forward bending. It combines sports medicine with fun exercises and functional movement (movements you actually need for real life). You get a workout at the same time that you retrain your muscles and spine position for healthier body mechanics, and your brain to know what is neutral spine for all your activities.
- The Ab Revolution has two components. The first is to learn how to consciously use your core to reposition your spine to neutral, away from injurious hyperlordosis, for back pain control during everything you do. Lower back and facet pain from overarching, also called hyper-extension, swayback, and hyperlordosis, is quickly stopped. It is simple repositioning, not doing exercises or strengthening. The second component is for people who also want exercise. It uses the new healthy neutral positioning during innovative exercises for healthier and more effective exercise than conventional core training.
- As a back pain control method, The Ab Revolution is done, not by tightening or exercising over time, but simply using core muscles to move your spine out of unhealthy position and feel the reduction in pain right then, and to maintain healthy vertebral angle during daily life.
- As an exercise for fitness, weight loss, and core muscle workout, there are Ab Revolution exercises and application of Ab Revolution neutral spine positioning during conventional exercises, that can be done in the gym, weight room, at home, and during favorite sports and everyday activities. All the exercises can be put together to music as a hi-energy fitness class.
- The Ab Revolution was developed by Dr. Jolie Bookspan, a military scientist, in response to the high incidence of back pain from conventional abdominal exercises, and lack of transfer to daily life.
2. What Does The Ab Revolution Do That Conventional Ab Exercises Don't?
The Ab Revolution works differently in several ways. It strengthens abdominal and core muscles without forward bending. It specifically teaches healthful spine positioning at the same time as it strengthens. By retraining how to hold neutral spine, it quickly removes a major source of lower back pain without having to do exercises. It provides effective abdominal exercises for those who want exercise, from simple to more challenging than conventional exercises. It dispels myths about abs, and is functional, meaning it trains your muscles to be more effective in the way you move in real life.
Forward bending at the neck, back, and hip for exercise trains rounded posture and is a known factor in neck and back pain, and is counterproductive for most people after a day of sitting.
Strengthening alone will not fix an injury or pain, and will not change injurious body positioning. Plenty of muscular people have pain. Unhealthy spine ergonomics, common during exercise, sports, and daily life, can compress the joints and discs of the back no matter how strong the muscles.
The Ab Revolution method strengthens abdominal and back muscles simultaneously while specifically teaching how to use the core muscles to maintain healthful spine position during the exercise, and to transfer that knowledge of positioning to all activities during the rest of your day.
The Ab Revolution dispels old myths, for example, to use abs you must tighten them or “suck them in” or “press your navel to your spine.” Tightening does not change injurious spine position or put you into healthy position. You cannot breath in well or move properly when you hold your abdomen tightly. Another myth is that you must keep your knees bent during exercises to “keep your back in proper position.” If it were true that you have to bend your knees to protect your back, how are you supposed to stand up and walk away? It is not your knees that position your lower spine, but your abdominal muscles. The Ab Revolution teaches you specifically how to use your abdominal muscles to move your spine and hold it in healthy position.
- The motions and exercises used in The Ab Revolution are functional. That means they train the body and muscles in the way they need to function in real life, standing, and moving, not only when lying on the floor.
Another benefit is to put health and fun back into fitness training. “Fitness” is often unhealthy because of fads, emphasis on cosmetic appearance regardless of the toll on the joints, lack of information about how muscles really work, and lack of transferring healthy movement skills to everyday life.
3. What Kinds of Back Pain Can The Ab Revolution™ Help?
- Swayback and Facet Pain - The techniques directly retrain you to prevent hyperlordosis (swayback) and the resulting facet joint pain and soft tissue lower back pain.
- Stenosis - Hyperlordosis (too much inward lumbar curve) often reduces needed space around spinal nerves and discs, increasing pain from conditions such as degenerating and herniating disc, stenosis, and impingement. Stop the source and stop the pain.
- Flat Back - Interestingly, an x-ray may show reduced lumbar lordosis (flat back) but the patient may be helped by the repositioning of The Ab Revolution. The reduced movement ability of their spine has less tolerance for slouching to end range, since the end range is reduced. A slighter lean may pressure the less mobile spine. Also, many people diagnosed with "flat back" may have reduced lumbar lordosis (smaller than normal inward lumbar curve) but still lean back, creating a large hyperlordosis higher up, with resulting facet and soft tissue compression. Ab Revolution teaches how to normalize spine to neutral at the pelvis and also thoracic junction - often ignored.
- Disc Pain - New work is showing relief of disc pain where overarching pinches the protruding disc. I am continuing work, finding that overarching(swayback/ hyperlordosis) may be a direct component in degenerating the discs themselves, both from the unequal compression and the sheer forces that result from overarching.
- Spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis usually involves one lower spine bone (vertebra) sliding forward on the one below it. My work has found that overarching (hyperlordosis) as a bad posture is a large component of the sliding and the pain that results. Using the same Ab Revolution neutral spine repositioning stops and prevents pain and sliding.
- "Mystery" Pain - This pain is most felt during and after long standing, walking, running, lifting and reaching activities. People who use an overarched (hyperlordotic) lower spine during these activities usually feel they need to bend over forward or lift one leg (or sit or lie down) for relief. Instead, The Ab Revolution shows you how to stop the overarching that is the cause of the pain. Then you don't need the "antidotes" of bending over or lifting one foot. You stand and move with neutral spine instead and never get the pain in the first place.
Back pain patients with hyper-lordosis, facet pain, and pain with standing/ambulation usually resolve pain from those problems after an office visit instruction. Repositioning the spine to away from damaging angle is key, rather than weeks of indirect exercises. Patients who returned to hyperlordotic slouching had return of cause of symptoms. Simple follow up to remind them to use the method resolved returning symptoms.
4. Is It Scientifically Researched As Effective?
I developed this method over many years in the lab, with real life patients, with several thousands of students and participants, testing combinations of established and proven sports medicine rehabilitation techniques and physical training methods, then rejecting non-useful techniques and integrating top techniques into real activities. Long, comprehensive follow up and feedback showed that use of the method resulted in direct reduction of cause of damage:
- Ab Revolution relieves lower back pain more effectively than conventional exercises and Pilates (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Volume 37:5, May, 2005).
- Ab Revolution functional core retraining was found to relieve lower back pain more effectively than conventional physical therapy (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Volume 38:5, 2006),
- I identified three kinds of hyperlordosis that are relieved using Ab Revolution techniques (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Volume 39:5 Supplement May 2007).
- The Ab Revolution hyperlordosis retraining method was found to relieve lumbar disc and stenosis pain. (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Volume 41:5 Supplement, 2009),
- Hyperlordosis Retraining Method Relieves Spondylolisthesis Pain. (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Volume 42:5, 2010.)
Thank you to Peggy Santamaria for making this banner for the 2010 ACSM conference presentation of this research.
- My work continues in identifying techniques for injury-preventing during movement, and healthful core and back strengthening methods. Studies of functional methods to stop back pain that occurs during long standing, walking, running, and exercise are found on the Lower Body Revolution (tm) Syllabus page.
5. Does The Ab Revolution Give You a Washboard Stomach?
It can. You can work your abs harder with The Ab Revolution™ than with conventional exercises. You work your abs and back at the same time as giving your back healthy definition too. Since The Ab Revolution teaches how to use muscles for real life, you learn to use muscle groups together, a bonus that also works arms and legs and upper body, while getting an ab workout. You can use Ab Revolution exercises together to create a workout to burn calories.
6. Who Uses The Ab Revolution?
Anyone who wants to stop low back pain from overarching, improve health, posture, appearance, and use and muscularity of abdomen and "core" can use The Ab Revolution. The simple pain prevention moves can be done by anyone at any fitness level, and are used in the United States and abroad by top spine centers and physicians. The tougher training techniques are used for superior training without injury by aerobics instructors and trainers in fitness centers around the world. The toughest components of The Ab Revolution are used by top athletes, law enforcement personnel, and military teams.
7. Can Someone With Osteoporosis or Herniated Discs in the Neck or Back Use The Ab Revolution™? What about Abdominal Hernia and Diastasis Recti?
The Ab Revolution does not use forward-rounding and bending exercises. The forward bending of conventional abdominal and core training (like crunches, curl-ups, and others that bend the spine and hip forward) can put degenerative and herniating pushing forces the discs, and are not a good idea for anyone with rounding or fractures from osteoporosis. A habitual rounded forward upper body posture is a main factor in causing Upper Crossed Syndrome. The Ab Revolution actively retrains muscles away from this posture and problem. I have been getting hopeful reports from patients with abdominal hernia and Diastasis Recti (ab muscle separation), who say that while conventional flexion abdominal exercises hurt and worsen abdominal hernia pain, they can use Ab Revolution without pain. Check back as data accrue. Check with your health providers to work sensibly to increase your health and physical abilities using The Ab Revolution. Click for a summary article on Diastasis Recti on my Fitness Fixer™ - Diastases Recti, What It Is and What To Do.
8. Crunches Make the Neck and Sometimes the Back Hurt. Will Ab Revolution™ Movements Hurt the Neck?
The forward bending used in conventional abdominal exercise practices and emphasizes forward-rounded posture. Forward bending is hard on your back and neck and does not train you how to stand and move when you get up off the floor. The Ab Revolution trains your abs without hunching your posture. Many of the exercises are done standing using your muscles to hold straight positioning and neutral spine the way you need for real life. The Ab Revolution trains you how to move in daily life without unhealthy spine positioning that contributes to neck and lower back pain.
9. Where To Learn More and Try The Ab Revolution
- How to exercise your abdomen and core without crunches - Learn the concepts and try exercises now with this quick-start article.
- Classes - Limited classes in The Ab Revolution (plus Lower Body Revolution and other methods) run in selected locations in Philadelphia, and nationally in fast moving workshops and teacher training.
- Get The Training Manual - Third edition Ab Revolution is now available, in full color eBook and in expanded revised print edition. Reorganized and expanded. Clearer and easier to follow than earlier editions.
- Get the "T" - Got the core? Get the T. Click image or link for easy fun, abdominal muscle reminders.
Fun t-shirt shows how to use abdominal and core muscles for real life lifting and activity - UNCommon Sense.
10. Two Separate Class Formats For The Ab Revolution
The Ab Revolution is taught in two distinct formats:
1. Lecture based, understanding and identifying neutral spine and stopping hyperlordotic (and hypo-lordotic) lower back pain during daily life and activities, with hands-on practice, covering Part I in the class textbook, plus sample Part II exercises. Required for health professionals working toward AFEM certification.
2. Ab Revolution Exercise class starts with short intro to neutral spine and student check, then exercises from the textbook Part II done continuously to music with instructor supervision. Certification in class format 1 required before applying to learn to teach Part 2. Class information on the CLASS page of this web site.
What Medical Doctors Say About The Ab Revolution with Dr. Jolie Bookspan
I've given The Ab Revolution to my physical therapists and trainers to use.
You have condensed things to a very workable format.
- Stanley A. Herring M.D. Puget Sound Sports & Spine Physicians
President of the North American Spine Society (at time of this writing)
I have learned how to teach patients to treat their back pain. Superb instructor.
- Fabrice Czarnecki, M.D., Family and Travel Medicine, Hopkins
is a method that everyone interested in good health and muscle tone should
especially personal trainers!
- J. Tom Millington, M.D.,
. Medical Director, St. Johns Pleasant Valley Hospital, CA
is a method that everyone interested in good health and muscle tone should
Jolie Bookspan has done it again! An expert at debunking scientific
she has developed an extremely interesting effective method that can be used
in every day life for the thousands (millions?) who have chronic lumbo-sacral pain.
Freeing the crunchers from the boredom of useless exercise programs that are quickly abandoned,
the program is simple, sensible and highly effective. Highly recommended.
- Ernest Campbell, M.D., FACS, General Surgery www.scuba-doc.com
What Aerobics Instructors, Yoga Instructors, and Trainers Say About The Ab Revolution
This class dispelled many myths about abs.
I've learned many exercises to bring to my group fitness classes
- Jack Sannino, Group exercise instructor, Bally's Fitness
The Ab Revolution is a whole new way of life and a better way of doing abs.
I have already reduced my own back pain. Great Class.
- Mary Ann Rahman, aerobics teacher
I liked the class because Jolie is energetic, fun, and makes excellent functional sense!
I've learned how to use my abs for every day, all day.
- Tracy Selekman, National Strength & Conditioning Association Certified Personal TrainerI've incorporated so much of your good advice into my yoga classes. I end each class with a period of lying on the floor and using the ab muscles to keep the lumber spine in place while moving the arms - a variation of the isometric abs exercise. Many (students) had previously bent knees for this. After the lumbar work, I find that almost all have straight, extended legs in complete relaxation. They notice that they are more comfortable afterward and able to sit and stand straighter. Hoooooray!! You are a genius. I hope I am teaching this properly.
- Peggy Santamaria, AFEM Director of Developmental AbilityYou have eliminated my long-standing back pain.
From one professional to another, thank you for constantly discrediting the myths that are all too often forced upon us.
- Audrey Tannenbaum, M.Ed., A.T.C., C.S.C.S., Athletic Trainer and Maccabean Games Triathlon Gold Medallist, PA
What Black Belt Martial Artists Say About The Ab RevolutionThis was a tremendously enlightening approach to core training.
It will allow me to continue martial arts for many years. You need to do this workshop!
- Andrew Seigel, Nidan Black Belt Modern Bujitsu
The Ab Revolution already helped my back pain.
I will use it in all my martial arts training to change to correct technique.
This technique will relieve a lot of pain from incorrectly performing our exercises.
- Richard Bole PHG, PA Second Degree Black BeltExcellent workout on abs and knowledge. I will have less trouble with my lower back during training now at age 62.
Valuable information that I can pass on to our students.
- Eb Molesch 7th Degree Black Belt, Karate
The workshop made me more cognizant of myths and better training.
Of all the fitness people I've spoken to over the years, you put the correct focus on how to do it correctly and why.
I hope we can attend another of your seminars.The book is a must-read.
- Denise Molesch 4th Degree Black Belt Tae Kwon Do
My students will benefit. I want to teach this.
- Susan Serota, Master 5th Degree Tang Soo Do
The workshop had good info on hip placement and alleviating low back pain.
It benefits my own martial arts and I am teaching this in my classes.
- Alan Roth Black Belt in Tai Shin Do
What Military/Law Enforcement Say
Dr. Bookspan, the brightest light in popular sports medicine,
cuts through the myths and falsehoods about abs.
- Kelly Hill, M.D., Green Beret Lt. Colonel., SWAT Team CommanderAn abundance of insight on new ways to use abs to make martial arts and every day life better.
- Ivan Mendez, Police detective and Defensive tactics instructor
Your one hour seminar yesterday did more for me than most of the time I spent at the gym!
Wow. It was a great seminar. Thanks!
- Christopher Michael Emmolo, BouncerIt's so good that I've been putting off the other things I need to do just to read your d*mned book.
It was as if you were reading my mind in answering my questions I've had for many many years. Super info. My workouts are harder now. If you had not changed my methods of training, I would still be hurting myself in the name of staying in shape. Thanks for all your efforts. You are leading the way to sensibility.
- Ed Cargile, Military Special Ops, US Marine Corp, Ret.
HooRah! We use it!
(we can't tell you who we are, we'd have to kill you with our bare abs!)
What People In Every Day Life Say
I've learned how to incorporate real use of abs in my daily life.
- Ming-Feng Chin, M.S., MPHI liked the class because the exercises were logically explained.
- David Barth, Haverford Fencing
I have already fixed my back pain. The class was an inspiration.
- Marcy Barth - Fencing MomUsing Dr. Bookspans revolutionary yet practical advice, I developed my abs more in the last 3 months than in the past 3 years doing crunches. Its encouraging to know that, by using them properly, I can develop my abs and improve my posture throughout the day. From Dr. Bookspans expertise, I have lost weight, built muscle, and eliminated chronic pain.
- Joni Lawrence, Merck International Health Program Coordinator
I fixed my back pain. The class was fun!
- Karen Doyle
To Prepare For Ab Revolution Workshops:
GENERAL CLASS SYLLABUS
for the Six Hour Class
and Instructor Training
Shorter Workshops will Draw From Selected Topics
Class 1 Exercises:
|Class 3 Lecture:
Why trainers say to keep knees bent when lifting, why it isn't true, and what to do instead.
Why doctors say to sleep with a pillow under the knees, why that can make the problem worse, and what to do instead.
Pregnancy, knapsacks, shoulder bags.
Why trainers say to keep hands under hips during leg lifts, why that doesn't work, and what to do instead.
Class 3 Exercises:
Class 4 Exercises:
Why it isn't a great ab exercise when trainers throw your legs back down during leg lifts
Arching isn't the culprit controlled extension and range of motion
Ab-Only Exercises are Not Good
The myth of isolation. Ab Revolution works abs and back at the same time and why.
Should You Work Your Abs Every Day or Every Other Day?
Sport specific abs kayak, tennis, swimming
Class 5 Exercises:
Hours Hours 7 and 8 for
Ab Revolution instructors
Ab Revolution code of Ethics Review
How to certify at each level
How to recertify
AB REVOLUTION CODE OF ETHICS
Ab Revolution participants uphold this Code of Ethics
Others will look to you as a positive example and guide. Use healthy posture, movement and lifting patterns as part of your daily life. Maintain positive mental outlook. Don't be negative about yourself or others. Eat healthfully. Don't eat junk. Don't smoke. Lead by example.
- Educate pleasantly. Don't proselytize.
- If you do not agree with a concept, talk to Dr. Bookspan first.
- Do not modify or change the method. Discuss innovations and ideas with Dr. Jolie Bookspan for appropriate additions.
- Do not "BS" people. If you don't know the answer to a question, tell them so. Contact Dr. Bookspan- AbRevolution @ DrBookspan DOT com -to discuss the information.
- Identify The Ab Revolution by Dr. Jolie Bookspan by name when sharing principles or exercises.
- Do not identify yourself or take any work or position as a trainer, instructor or any representative for Ab Revolution certifications or training materials unless authorized by Dr. Jolie Bookspan.
- Do not collaborate with anyone who violates these principles.
- We are drug free - no illegal drugs or performance enhancing substances
- Use your expertise and knowledge of The Ab Revolution with the purpose of improving life and well being for colleagues and the public, over sales of products or classes.
Don't Change These Concepts and Methods Back To "What You Know" (Ingrained Wrong) - These Methods Work Only As Written and Intended:Henry Louis Mencken said, "Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood" Even so, please don't change my work back into what you know, or what others say, or what you learned somewhere else. his is different and works differently than the pop fads that have become ingrained in fitness and health. To paraphrase Bertrand Russell, "An untrained man's report of what a knowledgeable man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand." My work is primary source, and often - not what we learned in school and the gym. Remember, that is good.
It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him.
— John Steinbeck
Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens
— Jimi Hendrix
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- Howard Aiken
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