Abdominal Exercises That Do Not Strain the Neck

Abdominal exercises that are performed in a supine (lying on your back) position and that lift the torso upward against gravity often aggravate the neck. If this is an issue for you, there are several ways you can still work the abdominals that will keep your neck comfortable and still give you “fab ab” results.

V-Sit Exercises

The v-sit is an exercise that works the abdominals in a seated position so the neck does not have to strain against the force of gravity. To perform the basic v-sit, sit on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you and your knees slightly bent. Cross your arms over your chest and lean back from your hips as far as you can without your feet coming off the floor. Your chin should stay just off your chest as you look slightly upward. Keep pulling your abdominals in and lift your lower back as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Try to maintain this position for 30 to 60 seconds at a time.

For a variation that works your obliques, get into the basic v-sit, then rotate side to side as you reach back with your right hand and then your left. For more abdominal challenge, lift both feet just slightly off the ground throughout the exercise.

Plank

The plank exercise is a stabilizing exercise that does not stress the neck area. To perform the plank, lay on your stomach with your chest lifted,and place your elbows directly under your shoulders with forearms on the floor. Place your toes on the ground, then, pushing into your forearms and toes, lift your body off the floor as you engage your abdominals. Try to keep your shoulders down away from your ears and activate your front thigh muscles as you hold your plank. Hold the position as long as you can, working up to holding for one minute at a time. Focus on breathing throughout the exercise. For a more advanced variation, lift one leg off the ground and hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.

Side Legs

For the side legs exercise, begin by lying on your back with your legs straight up in the air over your hips. Move your arms straight out to the sides and lined up with your shoulders. Slowly lower your legs as far as you can to the right and keep your left shoulder down on the ground. Hold this position for three to five deep breaths, then slowly move your legs to the center and over to the left, repeating the hold. Perform 10 to 15 per side, making sure you pull your abdominals in and breathe throughout the exercise. For an easier variation, bend the knees slightly which will create less work for the abdominals. Your head and neck remain down on the floor in this exercise, so they are supported and comfortable.

About this Author

Linda Freeman Webster is a certified personal trainer, group fitness, yoga and Pilates instructor who has been in the fitness industry for 20 years. She has published articles for IDEA Health and Fitness Journal, IDEA Fitness Manager, and USA Hockey Magazine.