We are kicking off a 30 Day Crunch Challenge for Spring today! Follow along on our Facebook page or Twitter to be reminded every day about your crunches. Since some of you may be following along at home on your own, I wanted to take some time to talk about crunches.
I've gotten the question many times "Are Crunches Bad for You"? The answer is no, crunches aren't bad for you, as part of a balanced fitness program. Some women do need to be cautious doing crunches if they have diastasis recti. What is diastasis recti you ask? Here is a great link to an article written by Fit4Mom National Fitness Director (and my amazing mentor), Farel Hruska- http://fit4mom.com/latest/blog/friday-fitness-with-farel-what-is-diastasis-recti. I know how to check for diastasis recti, as do your instructors, so if you'd like us to check you after class someday, please just let us know.
What is important to think about when it comes to crunches is your form. Here's what you need to know:
- Assume the crunch position- knees bent with your feet on the floor, hands placed behind your head elbows out to the side with your head relaxed down in to your hands.
- Pull your belly button towards your spine, and release. Repeat that movement, and notice how you feel it deep within your abdominals.
- Now keeping that pulling if your belly button, add the lifting of your shoulder blades up off of the floor. Be sure to keep your elbows out to the side- you should hardly be able to see them in your peripheral vision. Chin is off of the chest and head is relaxed down in to the hands. Release.
- If you feel that your arms behind your head is too intense- modification can be to extend one arm in front of you, or cross your arms over your chest. Just be sure to keep the tension out of your neck. A further modification is to just perform the pulling in of the belly button until you build more strength.
That is your crunch- the pulling in of the belly button is the crucial piece that is often missed as it takes you out of auto-pilot and makes you really pay attention to the move. There is a huge different in exercise when you actually pay attention. How am I feeling this? Is it in the right places? Take a moment to slow down and pay attention.
There is a group our clientele who should not be performing traditional crunches- and that's expectant moms after the first trimester. We follow ACOG guidelines that say that women should not be flat on their back after the first trimester. Don't worry mamas-to-be we didn't forget about you. You can perform crunches from the seated position, or use an exercise ball behind your back. Abdominal strength is of the utmost importance for expectant moms- it helps combat so many of the postural changes that occur during pregnancy, and helps you stay strong for after delivery.
Also please note, that for the optimal results from this Challenge, we recommend that you attend a Fit4Mom class regularly. In our classes we train for the Strength for Motherhood- we train dynamically which is where a lot of life happens. Life rarely takes you in a straight line, especially as a mom, so it's important to address that in your fitness program.
Questions? Please don't hesitate to ask myself or your instructor. Let's crunch!