Abdominal crunches done right

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Although abdominal crunches may not be your favorite abdominal exercise, it can be effective—if you’re doing it right. Erin Myers, a certified Pilates instructor and the founder of Spiral Spine, reminds us to watch out for these common mistakes!

1. Pulling on your neck with your hands: This will not make your crunches any more productive but could, in fact, quickly pull a muscle in your neck. Your arms really have nothing to do with crunches; it’s all about your rectus abdominis (most commonly known as the “six-pack muscle”). To break your neck-pulling habit, try keeping your arms straight down by your sides and hovering them just off the ground.

2. Jutting your chin to the ceiling: Imagine there is a tennis ball between your chin and your chest. Keep that tennis ball shape present throughout the entire time you are doing your crunches. If you jut your chin to the ceiling, the muscles in the back of your neck will get an intense workout—one that often results in a sore neck and probable headache.

3. Pushing your lower back into the mat: To truly help your core, don’t push your lower back into the mat. You need to keep your pelvis and spine in a neutral position while doing crunches. Once you get your pelvis in neutral, you’ll notice that your low spine has a natural curve that needs to be maintained while you do crunches.

4. Not curling up high enough in your back: Most people can anatomically roll up to about the bottom of your shoulder blades (ladies, that’s about your bra line), while still being able to keep their pelvis in neutral. That’s how high you need to roll up in your crunch every time.

5. Pulling your elbows forward: Keep your elbows wide to the side and stationary. Again, your arms have nothing to do with crunches. Engaging your pecs, which is mainly what will happen when you bring your elbows forward, will only preoccupy your mind from focusing on correct form and engaging your abs.

6. Using momentum: Slow and steady wins the race—and gets you rock hard abs much faster than speeding through crunches. When you get better at crunches, you don’t get faster; you should get slower and more controlled because you aren’t using momentum any more.

7. Performing 100 crunches with bad form: It’s not about how many you do; focus on perfect form instead, and remember that 10 slow crunches in beautiful form can take the same amount of time that 100 superfast crunches with bad form can take. The moment you notice your form is lacking, you’ll know your muscles are tired—and you need to take a break. Source: Erin Myers, founder of Spiral Spine. Learn more at spiralspine.com

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