Are Crunches Your Friend or Foe?

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Pixmac000046681941Strengthening our core to support our running routine is an absolute necessity. Using the proper core strengthening exercises can allow you to safely work out your core muscle group.  Learn why crunches have been the recommended form of abdominal exercise for the last few decades and why it may not be the most effective (or safe) method available.

Use the following tips to activate your core without performing a single crunching motion:

Belly Button to the Spine

Strengthening your core should be done on evrey exercise as well as just on walks. Back injuries can become a thing of the past if your core is strong and you use your core muscles all the time!

Haralee Weintraub, CEO, Haralee.Com Sleepwear

Avoid Crunches At All Cost!

(Author’s note: you don’t have to tell me twice!)

Back in the 80’s when sports trainers and kinesiologists were just starting to grasp how to train muscles to achieve certain affects, they boiled muscle flexes down to one primary action: shortening a muscle to flex it. When looking at the three major ab muscles, it was decided that crunches worked the rectus abdominus by shortening/flexing the “six pack,” and twisting motions worked the obliques, and sucking-in actions worked the transverse abdominus. In all the excitement about how crunches were able to quickly define the six packs of the rectus abdominus, though, everyone forgot one important thing: all three of those ab muscles are connected via the linea alba. And the linea alba doesn’t LIKE to be bulged over and over and stretch over and over. It has enough work to do just in holding our core together!

Do a crunch and you’ll feel how it’s very difficult to hold then navel down to the spine, keeping pressure off the linea alba, without flaring the ribs. Rib flaring and ab bulging (crunches) can cause a diastasis recti which is a separation of the abdominal muscles at the connective seem (linea alba) and this is BAD NEWS. A diastasis is an abdominal injury that is directly related to stress incontinence (peeing your pants when you jump or sneeze) and bowel problems and lower back pain.

Trainers needs to learn how to tighten the core without crunches. Pilates exercises like mermaids and teasers where there is NO pressure on the linea alba are very beneficial. Also yoga poses like the side bridge and upright warrior poses are excellent chances to flex the transverse abdominus, strengthening the larger, more important corset muscle that keeps pressure of the linea alba. Trainers also need to know how to check for diastasis so that they can design a suitable workout for those who have this horrible injury… and 98% of all women who have EVER been pregnant have one. If you have been taught to check for diastasis at a full crunch, that is incorrect and you will get a false-negative. It’s best to just eliminate crunches from your program designs and utilize as many side-lying and upright core moves as possible!

Bethany Learn, Founder, CEO, Fit2B Studio

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