Neck pain during crunches

T

traz

Guest
Hey all, my ab muscles are getting stronger and stronger, and I'm able to do about 300 crunches daily now. However, it seems as if my neck just can't keep up with that many reps.

Whenever I get to about 150 crunches, my neck begins to really hurt, and the hardest part of my ab workout is overcoming my neck pain! It's not doing the crunches that's hard :p

So my question is, has anyone else experienced this? Is it just me, am I doing the crunches wrong? Anything I can do stop having neck pains when doing crunches?

Thanks!
 

MA-Caver

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 21, 2003
Messages
14,960
Reaction score
312
Location
Chattanooga, TN
traz said:
Hey all, my ab muscles are getting stronger and stronger, and I'm able to do about 300 crunches daily now. However, it seems as if my neck just can't keep up with that many reps.

Whenever I get to about 150 crunches, my neck begins to really hurt, and the hardest part of my ab workout is overcoming my neck pain! It's not doing the crunches that's hard :p

So my question is, has anyone else experienced this? Is it just me, am I doing the crunches wrong? Anything I can do stop having neck pains when doing crunches?

Thanks!
If it hurts when you're doing it then your body is telling you to STOP, it's that simple. No excercise should cause pain. Cut back to 150 reps if it starts hurting... then pause, apply ice or heat to your neck muscles, rest and then hydrate and try again. If it keeps hurting then cut back to 150 and leave it. I dunno how old you are but one should be in-tune with one's body to listen to it when it says "hey, that's enough". I'm 43 now and cannot do the things that I used to do when I was 23 or even 33. I listen to my body and take care of it so I can keep doing the things I like to do just not as an intense level as I used to.
Accept your body's limits and build on that, it's stupid to push yourself so hard that you end up destroying something. Push yourself if you must but gradually. Drop the testosterone at the door of the gym and know when to quit. There's always tomorrow.
 

kenposikh

Blue Belt
Joined
Sep 22, 2003
Messages
265
Reaction score
3
Location
Seaton
traz said:
Whenever I get to about 150 crunches, my neck begins to really hurt, and the hardest part of my ab workout is overcoming my neck pain! It's not doing the crunches that's hard :p

So my question is, has anyone else experienced this? Is it just me, am I doing the crunches wrong? Anything I can do stop having neck pains when doing crunches?

Thanks!


Hey man,

If it hurts you're body is telling you to stop however by then you have probably already caused the damage.

You don't mention how you do crunches so I hope I'm not teaching you to suck eggs here.

When doing crunches imagine a tennis ball is lodged under your chin and focus on a spot on the ceiling. Ensure your hands are on your temples or supporting your lower back or resting on your stomach. use your abs to raise your shoulders off the ground not too much and hold for a second and then use your abs again to lower yourself back down.

Hope this helps.
 
OP
R

rmcpeek

Guest
He's right, if it hurts, stop. Are you doing the crunches with your hands behind your head? If so, you may be pulling on your head straining your neck without realizing it. If you are, try doing them with your arms crossed across your chest, you'll have less tendancy to cause strain on the neck that way.

Rich
 

DuneViking

Blue Belt
Joined
Feb 17, 2005
Messages
204
Reaction score
3
Location
Western Michigan
rmcpeek said:
He's right, if it hurts, stop. Are you doing the crunches with your hands behind your head? If so, you may be pulling on your head straining your neck without realizing it. If you are, try doing them with your arms crossed across your chest, you'll have less tendancy to cause strain on the neck that way.

Rich
Acknowledged and seconded! (nice Rich) Hands behind the head is a big no-no and can lead to serious issues, so if that is the deal stop now! If not, please explain how your pain develops and how yo do the exercises so people can help visualize. Luck!
 

MJS

Administrator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
30,187
Reaction score
429
Location
Cromwell,CT
How are you performing these crunches??? You could be bending your neck, which could be causing the pain. Try to focus on a spot on the ceiling. Your hands should be behind your head, and do your best to keep everything in line. You could also be coming up too high which could also be a cause of the pain.

Mike
 

shesulsa

Columbia Martial Arts Academy
MT Mentor
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
May 27, 2004
Messages
27,182
Reaction score
482
Location
Not BC, Not DC
A lot of people put their hand behind their head or neck and do crunches, and a lot of people wrench their neck by curling not just the trunk of their body, but their head also.

When I taught aerobics, I taught my students to look at the ceiling, not at their toes, and to place their fingertips on the side of their heads. If their wrists and hands felt like they were opening a jar, then there was too much head movement. Isolate your abs as much as possible. Your neck muscles (especially SCM's - sternocleidomastoids) should stabilize your neck and head, not help pick your body up.

So on a standard crunch, here's a few tips:

1. Imagine you have a cervical collar on that restricts your head movement.

2. Consider limiting just how far you sit up.

3. Consider a different hand placement - try a few - crossed on your chest (dead man's crunch, I call it), flat on your stomach (this can help you monitor specific abs), use them to reach or point (can strain the neck), pulse, etcetera.

Please post back here what you try and the results you get. Thanks.
 
OP
T

traz

Guest
Thanks for all the replies guys! When I"m doing my crunches, I have my arms crossed over my pec area, so I"m not physically wrenching on my neck.

I've been looking at my form, and I think the pain just stems from a bad habit I developed along the way. My eyes are definitely focues on a point on the ceiling, but at the peak of my crunch, I seem to tense my neck forwards...as if I'm replicating the movement of a turkey, if you can imagine. You know...when ppl mock turkeys, they move their necks back and forth? It feels like I"m doing that motion at the top of each crunch...and I"m not sure why, but I can't stop myself from doing it heh.

I'll just have to try and correct it I think...also, I"ve heard that doing lower reps of weighted crunches can help, does anyone know about weighted crunches?

Thanks guys!
 

dubljay

Master of Arts
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jun 10, 2004
Messages
1,831
Reaction score
17
Location
California
traz said:
I"ve heard that doing lower reps of weighted crunches can help, does anyone know about weighted crunches?

Thanks guys!
If you choose to go weighted, the best place for the weight is directly behind the head, not on the chest. Trust me, I can do crunches on an incline board no problem with a 25lb weight on my chest no problem, but if I hold a 5lb weight behind my head at the same incline I am toast after about 6 or 7.
 

Ceicei

Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Apr 23, 2003
Messages
6,775
Reaction score
85
Location
Utah
traz said:
I've been looking at my form, and I think the pain just stems from a bad habit I developed along the way. My eyes are definitely focues on a point on the ceiling, but at the peak of my crunch, I seem to tense my neck forwards...as if I'm replicating the movement of a turkey, if you can imagine. You know...when ppl mock turkeys, they move their necks back and forth? It feels like I"m doing that motion at the top of each crunch...and I"m not sure why, but I can't stop myself from doing it heh.

I'll just have to try and correct it I think...
As was noted earlier upthread by kenposikh, "imagine a tennis ball is lodged under your chin". Perhaps you should do more than just imagine and actually put a ball there. It might help you in keeping the chin tucked and improve your form.

- Ceicei

kenposikh said:
When doing crunches imagine a tennis ball is lodged under your chin and focus on a spot on the ceiling. Ensure your hands are on your temples or supporting your lower back or resting on your stomach. use your abs to raise your shoulders off the ground not too much and hold for a second and then use your abs again to lower yourself back down. Hope this helps.
 

Zujitsuka

Blue Belt
Joined
Oct 31, 2001
Messages
293
Reaction score
0
Location
Queens, New York
rmcpeek said:
He's right, if it hurts, stop. Are you doing the crunches with your hands behind your head? If so, you may be pulling on your head straining your neck without realizing it. If you are, try doing them with your arms crossed across your chest, you'll have less tendancy to cause strain on the neck that way.

Rich


Rich is correct. Do what he said and also keep your face skyward - don't put your chin on your chest.
 

searcher

Senior Master
Joined
Mar 15, 2005
Messages
3,317
Reaction score
58
Location
Kansas
Mind if I ask why you are doing so many crunches? You are only building muscular efficiency and not building ab muscle. You need to do resistance training with a heavier weight to get ab muscle growth, just like any other muscle. Start working out your neck to get it stronger. It would also be helpful if you could give us more info on what type of pain, sharp, dull, burning, etc.?
 

Corporal Hicks

Black Belt
Joined
Apr 27, 2004
Messages
565
Reaction score
6
Location
England
searcher said:
Mind if I ask why you are doing so many crunches? You are only building muscular efficiency and not building ab muscle. You need to do resistance training with a heavier weight to get ab muscle growth, just like any other muscle. Start working out your neck to get it stronger. It would also be helpful if you could give us more info on what type of pain, sharp, dull, burning, etc.?
I agree, Is not 3 sets of 20 reps enough to come out with decent abs? Why increase the weight? Regards
 

Tgace

Grandmaster
Joined
Jul 31, 2003
Messages
7,766
Reaction score
409
Agreed..its not so much the hands behind the head as the fact that you were probably cranking your head towards your knees rather than raising the upper trunk.
 

Kenpodoc

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Jan 7, 2003
Messages
734
Reaction score
19
Location
Ohio
traz said:
Hey all, my ab muscles are getting stronger and stronger, and I'm able to do about 300 crunches daily now. However, it seems as if my neck just can't keep up with that many reps.

Whenever I get to about 150 crunches, my neck begins to really hurt, and the hardest part of my ab workout is overcoming my neck pain! It's not doing the crunches that's hard :p

So my question is, has anyone else experienced this? Is it just me, am I doing the crunches wrong? Anything I can do stop having neck pains when doing crunches?

Thanks!
The neck pain is likely secondary to tensing muscles not actually used in the sit up. This would make your crunch work out a good time to work on selectively using only those muscles necessary for a movement and relaxing elsewhere.

Jeff
 

MJS

Administrator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
30,187
Reaction score
429
Location
Cromwell,CT
There are some good points being made here regarding proper form. Just to clarify my post when I was talking about hand position. When I'm doing crunches like this, yes, the hands are behind the head, but they are not in any way supporting my head. Its more of the finger tips touching my head, with the elbows pointing out to the sides.

Mike
 

searcher

Senior Master
Joined
Mar 15, 2005
Messages
3,317
Reaction score
58
Location
Kansas
Corporal Hicks said:
I agree, Is not 3 sets of 20 reps enough to come out with decent abs? Why increase the weight? Regards
The abs are just like any other muscle group in the body. You need resistance to build the muscles. That is why you need to add weight to your ab exercises. 3 sets of 20 reps is still a litle high. You only need 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps to build up your ab muscles.

Now if we are talking about getting a "six-pack", evryone needs to remember that abs are made in the kitchen. 80% diet and 20 % exercise. You should also make sure to work your lower back to build overall core stability.
 

searcher

Senior Master
Joined
Mar 15, 2005
Messages
3,317
Reaction score
58
Location
Kansas
MJS said:
There are some good points being made here regarding proper form. Just to clarify my post when I was talking about hand position. When I'm doing crunches like this, yes, the hands are behind the head, but they are not in any way supporting my head. Its more of the finger tips touching my head, with the elbows pointing out to the sides.

Mike
It is alright to support the head with your hands as long as you are not pulling on your head to get a little more range of motion. Keep your head and spine in alignment and you will be fine. Pull at the shoulders not at the neck or head.
 

MJS

Administrator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
30,187
Reaction score
429
Location
Cromwell,CT
searcher said:
It is alright to support the head with your hands as long as you are not pulling on your head to get a little more range of motion. Keep your head and spine in alignment and you will be fine. Pull at the shoulders not at the neck or head.

Thanks for adding onto what I was attempting to say. :ultracool Thats where I was going when I was talking about the hands behind the head. Rather than use the ab muscles, people will try to bang out more reps, and start to throw or pull themselves forward, and end up putting some stress on the neck.

Mike
 
Top