Abs might be made in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to work out these muscles. But one of the most common complaints about doing crunches is experiencing neck pain when working out your core.
So how do you fix and prevent it?
Experiencing neck pain when getting in ab work means that you aren’t using proper form to execute the exercise.
Instead of engaging the core muscles, you are instead relying on the neck, straining it to pull up and down with the movement.
Crunches—from basic to bicycles and every variation in between—needs to be felt from the core. This means using the abdominal muscles to complete the exercise, and not relying on the upper body.
How To East Neck Pain During Crunches
It’s best to keep the spine a straight line. Form that line when slighting sitting up, using the abs to hold the body up in this position. Pay attention to the spine in terms of the back and neck being aligned. Then start the exercise, digging deep to use the abdominal muscles to lift and lower.
Lower The Chin
Another great tip is to slightly lower the chin to engage the muscles that go from the chin to the collarbone.
Don’t bend the neck too much with chin down. Imagine that there is a tennis ball in between the chin and chest. Then do some crunches in this position.
A slight bend of the neck helps to activate the muscles that then stabilize the neck.
Standing up to complete crunches is a great way for beginners to get this core work done. Instead of laying on a mat on the floor stand up straight with hands to the side of the head, elbows out.
Then lift the right knee into the core at the same time as lowering the upper body. Then switch sides. Think about the straight spine tip mentioned, and use the abs here to pull in and release.
Standing up is also a great way to get bicycle crunches in. Lift the left knee and use the abs to pull down with the right elbow. Then repeat with the other side.
This is also a safer way to do crunches when pregnant as opposed to being on the floor and straining, which is not recommended to do when expecting.
Hands To Ears
Another way to ease neck pain when doing crunches is to place hands to the ears. Don’t wrap them around the neck. This makes us pull up with our neck, using the hand support.
With hands to ears, we have no choice but to engage at the core.
Do not come all the way up from the floor. This causes neck and back pain and is considered a sit-up, not a crunch. Crunches consist of smaller movements, only raising off the floor a little bit.
The goal is to get the shoulders off the floor and back down.
It’s always smart to warm up before the workout, even if it’s just squeezing some crunches in. This gets the muscles fired up and ready to work. Moving the head side to side and getting in some light stretches can make the world of difference.
For the same reason, it’s better to do core work after cardio like a run when the body is warm opposed to getting it over with first in a workout.
Make sure to work out other muscle groups to have the flexibility and stability needed to focus on abdominal muscle work.
Other tips for preventing neck pain during crunches is to not raise the head or shoulders. Instead, lay flat with legs out. Then raise them slowly and back down, but don’t let the heels touch the ground. This works the lower abs without feeling strain on the neck.