You’ve associated it with lying on your back and doing the dreaded crunches! When I have seen people do this in the gym, often they strain their necks once their abdominal is fatigued and their form goes out the window. If their hands are behind their head, they are pulling their necks forward, rather than contracting their abdomens.
If you have back problems, lying on your back doing crunches might not be the safest way to build up those core muscles. Core strengthening is essential to good posture, strength in any kind of arm or leg swing while participating in a sport and for protecting the back. There are many ways to strengthen the core other than lying on one’s back.
Opposite Arm/Leg Raise
On your hands and knees, extending the opposite arm and leg, alternating for 1 minute while engaging your abdominals is a good start.
An advanced core strengthening exercise might be one that challenges your balance as well. Start while standing on a Bosu form holding a 5-6# medicine ball. Lift the ball up to the right and swing down to the Left while squatting. Return to standing while lifting the ball up to the right . Repeat 10 times in each direction , 3 times.
I love this type of exercise because it is dynamic, meaning the surface is moving under you and so your core is being challenged throughout. You use your arms in a chopping motion so you get strengthening in the arms and squatting challenges your hips and legs.
There are many alternatives to getting core strengthening so ask your Physical Therapist for an alternative if you have back problems.
The Physical Therapy Center is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year!