Doing Sit Ups Without Straining Your Neck

When doing sit ups, how to keep from straining one's neck?

Any suggestions?

Holly from Richardson, TX

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Your back, head, and neck should always be in a straight line. Look up at the ceiling as you do sit ups, not toward your knees and concentrate on using your stomach muscles rather than getting your chin close to your legs.

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Do your sit ups on an exercise Ball.

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Whatever you do , DO NOT put your arms behind your head to support your neck. They pull on the back of your head can pull your neck muscles. When you lie on your back you should have your hands on your thighs, and slide them to your knees as the top of your body rises, then slide them back down again. You should aim to do as many as you can in 30 seconds each day, and build it up slowly until your neck muscles are strong enough to go for longer periods of time. If you want to strengthen your stomach muscles the other good thing to do is pushups - but only on your knees. That will also help balance the body.

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I do a core workout 3 times a week (about 350 crunches in 15 minutes) and was always getting a sore neck

I do support my head with my hands and brace my thumbs on the tendons that run under my ears. ALso, keep your back flat on the ground. I have a tendency to arch mine

Hope this helps


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Concerning pain, our musculoskeletal system is best understood (psychosomatic interpretation aside) as a tensegrity model. Pain is often the symptomatic expression of a lack of, or dis-ease of tensional integrity within the musculoskeletal system. To prevent pain, focus on biomechanically defined functional movement patterns, rather than muscle-specific exercises.

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I disagree with looking up at the ceiling the whole time. I believe that one of the reasons your neck hurts is because the extensors are activating to "help" you complete the exercise. You actually want to the neck flexors (the front of the neck) to activate to help you with the exercise. This can be done by putting your tongue on the roof of your mouth (where you would put it to swallow) while doing crunches. Your eyes should be on your thighs. Most of us tend to have weak neck flexors and strong neck extensors typically on the upper spine and shoulders due to poor posture. Stretch your chest and it will help!!

PS I agree that you should keep a flat back during the whole exercise. Also, try some lower abdominal exercises where the head is on the ground. IE Pelvic tilts, Sahrmann exercises are good too.

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A woman in a white t-shirt grabbing her sore neck.
Avoiding Neck Strain
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Health & Beauty Fitness ExerciseJanuary 25, 2007
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