It’s fairly common to hear exercisers complain about neck soreness or strain from abdominal workouts. This discomfort is most often caused by improper form – and it’s very easy to correct.
When the head is pulled forward during abdominal exercises, immense strain is placed on the posterior neck muscles. Many exercisers lace their fingers behind their head and pull forward during crunches, for example, thereby making the crunches easier – but also placing unnecessary pressure on the neck muscles.
To prevent neck soreness, change the placement of your hands. Instead of placing your hands behind your head, fold them across your upper abdomen. Alternatively, keep them by your sides. If you want to keep your hands by your head, just touch your ears lightly with your fingertips to prevent any forward pull.
In addition, it may be helpful to concentrate on the ceiling. Doing so prevents your head from lifting forward. It may also be helpful to imagine an apple tucked under your chin – allowing for space between your chin, neck and chest.
Alternatively, you can try exercises – such as the reverse crunch – that work the abdominal muscles without involving much upper body movement.
Beyond preventing neck soreness or strain, you’ll also be increasing the effectiveness of your abdominal workout. Because lifting your head forward makes the exercise easier, some intensity and effectiveness is lost in the process.
If muscle soreness persists, it’s always a good idea to consult with your physician.