Friends, I was so very excited about this. February’s challenge, part of my 12 Months of Fitness fit-stravaganza. 10,000 crunches. In 29 days. It’s a 30-day challenge, so I actually took the time to do the math and split the 30th days’ crunches throughout the month, so we could be sure to complete all 10,000.

And then I told my physical therapist about it and he yelled at me.

Okay, okay, he didn’t yell at me. But he did get all loud and high-pitched. His voice literally squeaked, which – given that he’s a broad-shouldered, six-and-a-half foot tall black man with a deep voice much like that of James Earl Jones – was enough to stop me in my tracks.

Apparently, crunches are one of the worst things we can do to our backs.

They basically take the lower part of our spine and smoosh it and stretch it and smoosh it and stretch it and smoosh it and stretch it over and over again until our discs finally cry uncle and splitch out all over the place.

My PT explained all of this very nicely to me; I am impressed that he has such patience when he is probably subjected to the “But I thought this thing I do all the time is supposed to be good for me” stories multiple times a day. He also showed me an alternate to crunches that protects your lower back and strengthens your core a bazillion times better than a crunch (this was seconded and thirded by his two assistants – both young and fit, so you know it’s true). You can see it in this video, which happens to feature the doctor my PT told me to Google posthaste:

So it would be silly (and irresponsible) of me to continue the February fitness challenge as planned; the thing is, we’ve got to figure out what we’re doing instead. My PT has told me my #1 job nowadays is to relax (ha!) and do maybe 5-10 reps of the proper core exercises a few times a week. But my back is not your back, so I encourage you to do your own research and figure out what will work best for you.

February’s new challenge: Relax and Do Stuff Right So You Don’t Get Hurt