Ask The Doctor: Why Don’t We Recommend Crunches for Core Strengthening?
We are often asked: Why don’t we recommend crunches as a core strengthening exercise?
There are two groups of muscles make up your core, muscles that move your core and muscles to stabilize your core. In particular, your diaphragm and transverse abdominis are important core stabilizing muscles, while your iliopsoas and rectus abdominis are powerful core moving muscles. When developing an exercise routine for core stability, it is essential to incorporate exercises that isolate and train core stabilizing muscles, more so than the core moving muscles.
With this in mind, let’s consider crunches. While crunches are a well-known core exercise, it is not an ideal exercise for promoting core stability. To perform a crunch, you primarily use your iliopsoas and rectus abdominis (i.e., core moving muscles) to execute the movement pattern. The side effect of this is that your diaphragm and transverse abdominis (i.e., core stabilizing muscles) are not properly activated. Ideally, exercises that isolate your core stabilizing muscles more than your core moving muscles should be incorporated in a core exercise routine.
The research surrounding the activation of specific core muscles with particular movements is an exciting field of study. Our chiropractic physicians and personal trainers at Ravenswood Chiropractic in Chicago consider the above principles and information from new research when developing a home exercise program for patients.
If you are interested in a core rehab routine, contact our clinic at the information below to schedule an exam with one of our chiropractic physicians so we can develop a plan that works best for you.