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Abdominal crunches are among the most well-known “ab exercise routines” around. It’s a form of exercise that increases your abdominal strength in the upper part more as your lower. Start by lying down on your back with the hands are behind you with knees bent. Then, lift your chest and your head off the floor “crunching” the upper part of your body to form a C-shaped curvature.

In the past, many fitness and health experts have shunned the exercise completely, claiming it is not effective in strengthening the core. While I am of the opinion that it shouldn’t be the sole exercises you perform – the abdominal crunch has its place. When performed properly, mastering this movement will help you rise from the ground, and rise from the bed more easily and with less chance of injury. Of course, you are likely to see this movement a lot in classes for exercise and classes, so it’s crucial to be able to perform the correct way without hurting your neck.

If you’re experiencing crunches in your neck rather than your abs, here are the most common issues I notice and how they may be causing you pain.

1. Your abs aren’t working.

It’s pretty obvious isn’t it? You must employ your abs when you do a crunch. Anatomically-speaking – it would be impossible for you to perform this move without some form of engagement with your abs. Many people aren’t engaging their abs correctly. This can lead to neck pain.

Let’s see what can happen.

If you don’t use your abs correctly during a crunch , your neck may start to flex to aid. Then, your neck will get sore due to this since your neck muscles weren’t created for use as the principal movement during the crunch. A simple tip to follow the next time you perform a crunch is to ensure that you inhale fully – and exhale when the crunches begin. While you’re doing this you should check your neck. You should be able to move comfortably

rotate and then wiggle it around from side to side. If it is difficult, then you’re likely using the neck muscles to assist you crunch. Your abdominal muscles may need some effort.

2. Your neck is not in the correct place.

If you’re performing an abdominal crunch, your neck posture is crucial. It’s easy to believe that your neck is moving through the crunch, but it’s best to remain still. The best position for your neck position is to start with a gentle nod of your chin (like you’re saying “yes”) then continue to do so. The rest of your curling motion will be caused by tightening the abdominal muscles in order to lift your body. When you curl your body, make sure you maintain the perfect curve of your upper body. Also, maintain the tennis ball’s distance between your chest and chin.

The majority of people curl their necks too much or they don’t do enough. When your neck is in contact with your chest, then you’re curled way too much and will feel strain in your neck. If you keep your neck straight, you’ll feel strain in the neck’s front. Another mistake that is common with neck position in a crunch is that you incline your head inwards. This puts strain on your neck’s upper part right next to your head. Any of these positions could result in temporary discomfort in your neck, they may lead to permanent problems in the future If not addressed.

3. If you have an underlying neck issue

Sometimes, you’ll do everything but still experience neck pain when you do the crunch in your abdominal. This could indicate that you may have an issue with your neck that is underlying – and doing lots of crunches may have exposed the problem.

Let me explain.

Let’s say you’ve got an unintentionally bulging disc that is in your neck was not aware of, or believed that it was “fixed”. The curled posture of your neck when you crunch could cause this issue to worsen even if you’re doing your abs properly and following the tips I mentioned earlier.

Take note of what you feel when the abdominal crunch. If you feel discomfort that radiates to your shoulders, sensation of tingling or numbness down your arm (especially when it extends past the elbow) This is a sign that there could be a unrelated neck issue that is aggravated by the crunches. It is possible that you experience these symptoms when you crunch, or for a few hours after. In either case, signs such as these could be an indication that there’s more to your neck discomfort other than a misguided technique for crunching or weak abs. It is essential to speak with an expert on this.

If you’re experiencing neck pain when doing abdominal crunches, these tips will give you an understanding of why it happens and how you can take action to alleviate it.


Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, runs CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and is a writer for the Seacoast Media Group. To get in touch, or get a free copy of her guide to neck pain, email her at [email protected] or call 603-380-7902.

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