How To Avoid Neck Pain When Doing An Ab Workout

Strengthening one's core can have a positive impact on physical fitness and overall quality of life. Core exercises should be included in a well-rounded fitness program, although they are often ignored. Why is it so important? Because your core is the central part of the body and helps the rest of the body move in harmony, according to Mayo Clinic. Balance and stability, good posture, a healthy back, and ease of performing everyday acts are just some of the benefits of a strong core, explains Harvard Health Publishing.

Of course, there are right and wrong ways to perform an ab workout. You may find that your neck is beginning to hurt in the middle of working your core. If you do, this is a sign that you're performing the exercise incorrectly. When doing an ab exercise, let's say a crunch, your core should be doing more of the work, not your neck. Straining your neck is very common during some exercises like crunches or Russian twists, according to Self.

However, there are ways to avoid neck pain when doing an ab workout. Make sure to follow them to get the full benefit of crushing your core.

Avoid exercises that can strain your neck

There are dozens of different ab exercises, some standing and some laying down. Many exercises that involve flexing or twisting have the greatest risk of straining your neck. These are the ones you should avoid, like bicycle crunches. Thankfully, there are just as many ab exercises that don't have you flexing.

First, try the standard plank. While there are variations, the easiest one is with your knees on the ground. Get into a push-up position then lower your knees until they touch the floor. Of course, you can also keep your knees up to do a full plank, according to PureGym.

Next, for a tougher challenge, you can attempt the renegade row. Like a plank, get into a pushup position, but this time have a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand. Row one arm at a time, being sure to keep good alignment in the body. This won't work your front abs, but it will fire up your obliques and low back stabilizers, explains Men's Journal.

Perform ab exercises with proper form

While performing non-flexing ab exercises is the safest way to avoid neck strain, you may want to vary your workouts with many types of core workouts. Fair enough, but you need to make sure you're performing the exercises properly. The biggest reason for neck strain is lack of technique, according to Self.

For example, take the crunch. It seems like a simple exercise — after all, you're simply lifting your head and shoulders off the ground to flex your core. However, many people put their hands behind their head and pull. This often causes strain in the neck. Instead, slowly lift up and focus on engaging your core instead of using your arms or neck.

One common visualization while performing these types of exercises is to think of a fruit between your head and throat, explains Shape. Imagine your holding an orange to your throat. Leaning your head too far back will drop the orange, but leaning too far forward will crush the fruit. You can also physically put a towel in between your chin and throat to keep your neck in the proper position.