The advice used to be very clear; Don’t do a crunch as the motion is bad for you.
These days however there appear to be more and more people/coaches/trainers saying that “Actually crunches are completely fine”. I have read it from coaches and I’ve seen it on Facebook groups such as Girls Gone strong.
As always with these things both pieces of advice are correct depending on which caveats you apply.
I will take you through everything here and then you can decide for yourself whether crunches are right for you.
Are all your muscles working correctly?
As I have written about before; Part of Diastasis Recti is poor core-activation. The muscles are simply not working quite right and that means that when doing a certain exercise the wrong muscles start “helping out”. This is why the first stage of our Post-Natal exercise program is all about muscle activation. Unless you get the right muscles to work at the right time you have no chance of fixing your Diastasis Recti.
Do you know how to do a crunch properly? Most people I see doing crunches in the gym are not actually performing them correctly. 1; You shouldn’t be pulling yourself up by the neck. 2; A crunch should be a fluid motion and 3;A crunch is not a sit-up. Your lower-back should never actually leave the floor.
This is a pretty decent video of how to crunch properly.
Do you know which muscles you should actually be working?
A lot of people are not quite sure which muscles should be working when they’re doing a crunch. A crunch always starts with the top 2 abs and then the rest of the rectus abdominis kicks in.
Which leads me to the most important question of all.
Do you know why you want to do crunches?
I’m just asking because we know they don’t really help heal your Diastasis Recti and that, quite rightly, is the focus for a lot of women Post-Natal.
If the answer to any of those questions is No, then you shouldn’t do a standard crunch.
1; If you have decent core activation.
If your muscles are working correctly and you feel like you’re in control of your muscles then you’re good to go.
2; If you feel like doing some crunches because they’re “fun to do”
Basically, if you can keep your belly button tucked when doing a crunch properly you’ll be safe to do them.
But they are nothing special. In the beginning you’re better off focussing on other muscles and targetting different areas. If however you feel that you know how to do one properly and you feel like you’re in control of your core there is no reason for anyone to avoid doing them. This is why we have several variations of crunches in the program. They can really complete your core workout so don’t avoid them, just do them at the right time.