I can’t remember exactly how old I was the first time I did a crunch, but it feels like an exercise move I’ve always known. Think about it…when I say “picture a crunch” you know exactly what I’m talking about, right? On your back, hands behind your head, and pulling up into, literally, a crunched up position.
But what does this position look like if you look at your body from the side? Poor posture! Technically it’s called “thoracic flexion” where we round the shoulders forward and push the head forward. And many of us were taught to do this move over and over again. YIKES! Building STRENGTH in this position is the OPPOSITE of what we want to do.
Maybe now you’re wondering what you SHOULD do, because this is one of the most common moves for ab workouts. And I do want you to have a strong core, just not at the expense of your back! Don’t worry, I have a solution!
Here are the steps:
- Lie on your back, face up
- Interlace your hands behind your head (sounds familiar so far). BUT I want you to almost pull your hands away from each other (check the video to see what this looks like!)
- Engage your underarm muscles so that your shoulders are pulled down through your back, and keep your elbows super wide.
- Relax your head into your hands and lift your head and chest 1-2 inches up off the floor. It’s a small range of motion.
It’s NOT a head lift up, and it’s NOT a crunch up. Instead, lift from the area right at the bottom of your ribcage.
Keep your elbows and hands pulling outward, neck and head relaxed, back activated. If you are shaking a little, that is great because it means you are working several muscles.
By pulling the hands away from each other, it helps to engage the back in addition to engaging the core!
This is a great way to improve your posture and work your core at the same time. I LOVE exercises that do double duty – that’s why I included several in the 3 Week Desk Pain Solution. Give this posture friendly crunch a try and let me know how it goes in the comments!