Crunches neck pain

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

Performing a crunch is relatively simple.

Unfortunately, doing a crunch the wrong way can cause severe neck pain. Here is an easy way to do a crunch properly. Do not do this before checking with your physician or physical therapist.

•Lie flat on your back on the floor with your legs bent to about a 90-degree angle with both your butt and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head making sure not to lock your fingers.

•Pick a spot on the ceiling directly above you. This should be done so you don't bend your neck during the crunch. Very important... don't take your eyes off this spot! The most common mistake made when doing a crunch is stressing the neck as a result of pulling on it with the hands.

•Stabilize the low back by tightening the abdominal muscles.

•Curl forward slowly using the abdominal muscles only. Do not bend at the waist. Keep the abdominal muscles tight. Focus on the spot on the ceiling to prevent neck pain. At the top of the crunch, the shoulder blades should only be 4-6 inches off the floor. Pause at the top for 1-2 seconds, keeping the abs tight. The whole movement should be performed slowly and take about 2 seconds.

•Return to the starting position slowly while keeping the abs contracted.

Crunches should be done as a part of a core strengthening program. This will include the low back muscles as well.

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