How can I work my abs if core exercises hurt my neck?

Your neck should not hurt during core exercises. There are two reasons why you may be experiencing neck pain. The first is improper breathing. When performing core exercises be sure to follow regular breathing patterns to prevent valsalva maneuver. Not breathing during exercise can increase intrathecal and blood pressure causing unnecessary head and neck pain.

A second reason may be secondary to movement compensation. Some individuals will allow the head and neck to jut forward when performing core exercises. This is a common movement compensation and often leads to head and neck pain. A good tip is to keep your ears directly in line with your shoulders. Always seek physician consultation if pain does not subside.

Sadie Lincoln
Sadie Lincoln on behalf of barre3
There are many ways to work your abdominal muscles other than sit-ups and crunches, that allow you to rest your neck. Plank is a great core workout, and is an isometric (or static) hold exercise. When working your core in any position, creating length in your spine, and drawing the muscles of the front body back toward the organs and spine can really help. Fluid breath, expanding the ribcage rather than the belly, is something I tell my students during core work all the time. Pull your abdominal muscles into your body on each exhale, trying to maintain that strength as you take in your next breath. When you can control and isolate your abs, without holding your breath, you can keep the neck relaxed.

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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.