The desire of the client to get six-pack abs can lead to reckless decisions and deplorable consequences in the back. Incompetent coach or coach, who wants just to please the client, will look nonstop for new and interesting exercises. That`s how were invented plank challenge, exercises for the “lower” abs, 100 reps abs, etc. without taking into account the current state of the body. As a result of such experiments you can hear: I do abs and my neck hurts, I do abs and my lower back hurts or I do abs and nothing hurts. I think it’s worth starting with the fact that working out just abs is meaningless. All segments of body are interrelated and co-exist in balance.
The abdominal muscles are the rectus abdominis muscle, the internal and external oblique muscles, the transverse abdominal muscle (the deepest layer that supports the internal organs). Usually, people refers abs to the rectus abdominis muscle, although this is only one of the all layers. Connective fibers cross the straight muscle across and create those cherished six-pack. The rectus abdominis always contracts along the entire length, the difference is in the degree of tension. Therefore, the lower and upper abs simply do not exist.
Abs work together with a number of other muscles. All of them together are called the center, core, powerhouse. Core is the basis of all movements, no matter what we do. By this concept we can imagine the area between the diaphragm and the pelvis in the form of a cylinder. The upper part of the cylinder is the diaphragm, the lower one – the muscles of the pelvic floor, the walls of the cylinder – the transverse abdominal muscle and deep muscles around the spine.
Thus, pain in the neck is an indicator that you are doing the exercise incorrectly. Recommendations on the type “continue, put it up” or “strengthen the neck, and then do abs ” are useless.
Abs exercises are about spine flexion, rather than the neck. If the powerhouse is not active or body alignment is poor, you will compensate chest lift with the neck. Chest lift is the base for all abs exercises.
I can`t teach the correct technique by the text, so I’ll just put emphasis.
- The neck should be aligned. Imagine that between the chin and chest you hold a soft fruit. If you squeeze it, it will crumble, and if you relax the pressure, it will fall out.
- Stable shoulders are a support for the head. You should not try to lift your head from the floor with the help of your hands.
- The ability to lengthen the back part of the body will enable you to raise and flex the upper body.
- Do not tilt pelvis to the navel, keep it neutral.
All these tasks are about the development of the core muscles of the center and body alignment. These are the tasks of the Pilates method, which we achieve in many ways and not during the one class.
For example, diaphragm-lateral breathing will expand the intercostal space and liberate the area of the cervical and thoracic region. Efficient work of the pelvic floor muscles will provide an opportunity to “push” the ribs away from the pelvis and the head from the ribs. Elongation in two directions will include deep muscles. And this is a small part of what is required for organic movement.
To sum up, if you have a sore neck during abs exercises, perhaps you should pay attention to an integrated approach to training, and not act in spite of the pain to follow the fashion?
Author – Anastasia Vekua