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Are crunches bad for me?

There are not really any bad exercises, just bad exercises for certain people.  Crunches may not be the best exercise choice for individuals with certain injuries or conditions affecting the spine and lower back. Also, while performing crunches, if pain is felt anywhere other than in the abdominal muscles, such as the lower back or neck, then stop doing them!  Pain is the body's way of telling us that we should not be doing that particular activity.  There is nothing magical about the crunch exercise, so if you have certain injuries or if you cannot perform crunches without pain, there are countless other exercises you can do to challenge the muscles of the midsection. Usually, pain felt in the neck and lower back during crunches is a sign that your body may need more stabilization-oriented exercises for the core instead of movement-based exercises like the crunch. Core stabilization exercises are designed to teach you how to put your body into proper alignment and maintain it for extended periods.   While appearing at first glance to be easy, core stabilization exercises are very challenging and can give your abs a very intense workout. The challenge in core stability exercises comes from trying to resist or prevent motion, wheres with crunches, the challenge comes from trying to create motion.  Include stabilization exercises in your workout routine for about four weeks to allow your body to develop proper stability of the core before giving crunches another try.  A couple great exercises to start with are the quadruped arm opposite leg raise on ball and the bench iso-ab.  

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.