Good for your abs, bad for your neck? We’ve got the tips to learn how to prevent neck pain when doing crunches.
Crunches are great for your core, but they can be not-so-great for your neck if you’re not using proper form. Below, we’ll go over how to maintain proper form and save your neck unnecessary strain.
As long as you’re doing them correctly, crunches are a wonderful core exercise. People often forget that such a common move can have so many benefits. Crunches help build abdominal endurance, which may sound sort of funny, but abdominal endurance is actually very important.
You may not realize it, but you’re almost always using your abdominal muscles–even when you’re sitting upright in a chair. With this being said, abdominal endurance is essential for everyday activities.
The classic crunch is clearly more important than you may think and it’s a great exercise to add to your daily routine. However, if you don’t use proper from, it can strain your neck and lead to long-lasting pain. Since the exercise not only helps you take a step closer to your goal body, but also helps you to build that essential endurance, it would be a shame to refrain from doing crunches because of avoidable pain.
Other than focusing on proper form, there are other ways you can help prevent neck pain. First of all, make sure you’re doing other exercises to develop core strength. Strength is essential for doing a crunch without strain. Workouts like this crunch-free ab routine and this 5-move workout with crunch variants are great for your abs. Planks are another key move to master.
And finally, we’ll go over the four most important things to keep in mind when it comes to doing a proper crunch. Discover how to prevent neck pain and get the most out of this essential exercise!
Don’t hold your head or neck.
Sometimes, when you hold your head during crunches, you end up thrusting your head forward. This is Bad with a capital B for your neck! Thrusting your head forward not only takes the emphasis away from the core muscles, but it could also be the reason your neck is aching.
The strain can lead to pain both during the exercise and afterwards. Instead of holding the back of your head, try keeping your arms at your sides or lightly touch your head with fingertips, just behind the ears. Using an exercise ball is my favorite when it comes to crunches. I position my hands at the back of my ears and lightly touch my head, but never hold it.
Leave space between your chin and chest.
Make sure there is adequate space between your chin and chest. It will help keep your head back and, therefore, keep you from whipping it forward and hurting your neck.
Try imagining that you’re holding a ball (about the size of a grapefruit) between your chin and chest. Or better yet, actually put a light ball or rolled up towel between your chin and chest. Keep this space constant throughout the exercise.
Looking up at the ceiling (or sky, if you’re working out outside) will ensure that you keep this necessary space between your chin and your chest. It will also help you keep your head relaxed, taking away a great deal of that tension you may feel on your neck when you’re looking toward your knees.
It’s our instinct to pull our heads toward whatever we’re looking at while crunching. You’re probably doing it without realizing it. Making sure that you’re looking up instead of forwards will help prevent your head from bending towards your chest.
Slow it down.
Faster doesn’t mean better when it comes to crunches–it also doesn’t mean harder! In fact, taking the movement slow and really engaging your core muscles will be more effective than rushing through it. Slowing down your crunch is also better for keeping proper form and it’ll help you get rid of that awful neck pain.
Now that you’ve read all about crunching–why they’re so good for you and how to prevent neck pain while doing crunches–you probably feel the urge to try some of these tips! If that’s the case, fire up those abdominal muscles with our Daily Morning Core Workout or our 6 Exercises that Target Upper & Lower Abs.
Let us know how you like the workouts in the comments below! Don’t forget to check out our Facebook page, follow us on Pinterest, and subscribe to our newsletter for more delicious recipes and healthy lifestyle tips!