You probably know how to do crunches, but do you know how to do them without pain?
That’s an entirely different subject.
People generally have a love/hate relationship with crunches.
They either love them or hate them. There really is no in between.
As a physical therapist and fitness instructor, I appreciate the purpose of a crunch and use it regularly in my training, but it has to be done correctly in order to reap any benefits.
Otherwise it just hurts and causes more problems!
If you hate doing crunches because they cause you neck and back pain, this post is for you!
The abdominal crunch is one of the most well known exercises for toning the midsection. It can also be one of the most loved or hated exercises, depending on who you ask :).
The exercise involves starting flat on your back and then lifting the head, neck and shoulder blades off the floor. You only lift as high as the bottom tips of the shoulder blades and then return to the starting position.
I always use the term “crunch” as opposed to “sit up” when describing this motion. (It can also be called a “chest lift” in Pilates verbiage). While they are often times used interchangeably, some people consider a sit up to be coming all the way to a sitting position from a laying down position.
We won’t be covering that movement today, so we will stick with “crunch” for our purposes.
Crunches generally are meant to work the rectus abdominus. That is your “sick pack” that runs down the front of your torso. It contracts concentrically when you lift to a crunch position and eccentrically when you lower back down, toning and strengthening that specific muscle group.
There are other abdominal muscle groups (obliques and lower abs) that need just as much attention as the rectus, which is why I would never tell anyone to ONLY do crunches. A well rounded core program works all of these muscles, and crunches are only a part of this.
But there are times that we just want to be able to do a crunch. Many abdominal exercises – including quite a few Pilates exercises – include holding some kind of crunch position, and I know it’s frustrating when it seems pain holds you back from achieving this.
Which is why we are here today!
I want to show you how to do crunches without neck pain. In the 5 minute tutorial video below, I describe the most common concerns I see when someone gets neck pain while doing crunches. I’ll also show you the way to correct these movement patterns so you can have less pain and a more effective exercise for your abs both in the short term and long term!
After watching the video and going through the tutorial, you can check out this Pilates for Beginners video to put everything you’ve learned into practice!
You shouldn’t have to live with pain, especially if there are just one or two things to correct in order to feel better! Remember to be patient with yourself and really pay attention to how you move. Just a few small corrections can change your hate relationship with crunches to a love relationship.
Remember to always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Please stop right away if you feel pain, dizziness or nausea.