Crunches will never flatten your tummy! I’ll tell you what they will do – they will place a huge load on your spine and push your insides south, which can lead to incontinence and prolapse. They will place a tremendous load on the linea alba (the connective tissue that aligns the two six-pack muscles), which can lead to diastasis recti (the separation of the two six-pack muscles) or make an existing one worse. Crunches can contribute to a bulging six-pack if that is what you are after, but a six-pack with a huge gap in the middle is neither attractive nor supportive and your spine and pelvis will not be happy.
We have been crunching our way to oblivion for a long time. The back pain has not gone away and the flat tummy everyone has been striving for is just getting bigger. Not to mention, the incidence of pelvic floor dysfunction and diastasis recti are much higher and continues to increase. Crunches are the last thing our body needs. In today’s world, we spend majority of our day sitting and when we are standing, we are sucking our bellies in to try and make it look flatter. We have a chronically contracted midsection that is begging us to stretch and train it differently!
So the question you all are asking now is ‘what CAN we do?’ Here are a few of my fave crunchless core moves.
Standing Medicine Ball Paddling
Grab a 5 lb medicine ball, sandbag or dumbbell with both hands. Stand with your feet pelvis width apart. Start with the weight out in front just below chest height. Keeping both hands on the weight, start making a paddling movement, alternating sides. Bring the ball down to the hips on one side, lift with the shoulders and bring the ball back up on the same side. Cross over to the opposite hip and shoulder. Imagine you are paddling through water as you move the ball from side to side.
Grab a 5 lb dumbbell, sandbag or medicine ball. Get onto your knees with your knees about pelvis width apart and your body long and tall. Hold your weight up at chest level with your elbows tucked in by your sides. Inhale and exhale to engage your core as you lean backwards slightly while keeping your body straight. Inhale as you return to the start.
Bird Dog on the Ball
Take a stability ball and place it in front of you. Place your torso on the ball so majority of the ball is below your ribcage and on your lower abdomen/pelvis. With your arms and feet are on the floor, inhale to prepare and then exhale to engage the core. Now lift your right arm off the floor. Inhale and lower down. Try 10 reps with each arm and then move to each leg. To progress, lift the right arm and left leg at the same time and repeat on opposite site.
Never crunch again. Try these moves and see the difference yourself!