Most people who like to go to the gym are constantly developing and I need to start doing more core work. But when i added a lot of crisis to change my homely meal, I realized that it was not my belly muscle, used from exhaustion-it was my neck. Every time I come up, my muscles holding my head than I will cry six sounds. The pain disappears like a typical muscle soreness, so I think it just means that my neck is very weak. More embarrassing, I never thought that until I was and a friend was and half a tight, spontaneous, she said she was at the core, did not even feel it, but you guess also in her neck.
“Neck pain during crunches is incredibly common,” assures Pete McCall, C.S.C.S., a San Diego–based trainer and host of the All About Fitness podcast. Plus, he told me, you can’t really “strengthen” your neck, and it wouldn’t solve much anyway.
“Most people perform a crunch from the upper body instead of the abdominal region, which works your neck muscles—and not the way you want,” explains Joel D. Seedman, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., owner of Advanced Human Performance in Atlanta.
Think of your spine like a noodle: It can bend back, forth, and around, but the structure remains linked together in one fluid line at all times. The exception to this is your cervical spine, which is the top portion that runs from your shoulders up into your skull. Despite being physically connected, your head has the ability to move independently from the rest of the noodle. And when you go to do a crunch, your head may lag behind, disrupting the perfect arc and causing a strain on those supporting neck muscles thanks to gravity, explains McCall.
If performed properly, crunches will keep your spine in line from lower back to head. But if you let the head lag, you’re leaving your neck vulnerable to a strain. “Imagine each disc in between your vertebrae as a jelly doughnut,” says McCall. “If your head is jutting forward, it puts too much pressure on the front and squishes jelly out the back.” Best case, this slight compression results in the mild discomfort that’ll keep you from churning out enough reps to ever actually see abs in the mirror. But with enough pressure, this improper form can actually lead to a bulging disc, which comes with serious pain, numbness, and muscle weakness.
A handful of studies have shown that simply tucking your chin toward your chest before and during a crunch can reduce the muscle activity in your neck. Why? It activates the hyoid muscles—which run from your chin to your collarbone—to act as stabilizers, says McCall.
Try it: Visualize holding a peach between your head and your throat, McCall suggests. If you don’t squeeze, you’ll drop it, but too much pressure will squish the fruit, releasing juice everywhere. (If visualizing just isn’t working, try folding up a towel and squeezing it between your chin and your chest.)
Then, rather than placing your hands behind your head for the crunch (which encourages you to pull on the head and create further strain), place your hands on your forehead.
In fact, a 2016 study in Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that when people both tucked their chin and lightly touched their face during a crunch, it relaxed their sternocleidomastoid—the thick muscle that runs from your ear to your collarbone—and alleviated neck pain, compared to when they did a basic crunch. Bonus: The variation engaged their abs and obliques more, too.
You can also put your waist and belly on the floor, Seedman said, because it adds a slight posterior pelvic tilt to prevent the upper part of the spine from moving independently. And the crisis is really slow “People often think of tightening, they need to let their bodies leave the ground in this big sport, but this should be a small, compact sport,” he explains. Remember, your goal is to activate abs, without your shoulders and head. If you put the momentum and glue the lumbar spine pad, it forms a contraction to your nervous system signal to your core, your belly muscles work in a way that makes you stronger and makes you no pain.