abdominals

Why Does my Neck Hurt When I Do an Ab Curl?

Have you ever dreaded having to do an Ab Curl in class? Not because you know it’s hard work, but because you know your neck will feel uncomfortable and you end up feeling tight and sore in all the wrong places?

If you have, you are not alone!

Which is why we thought we’d give you some tips on why your neck might be hurting and what you can do about it.

You can get neck discomfort at different times during the Ab curl and for different reasons.

See if any of these descriptions sound similar to you and if they do, continue reading to work out what to do next.

Reformer Abdominal Exercise, Pilates HQ

Reformer Abdominal Exercise, Pilates HQ

It hurts as soon as you lift your head off that dreaded Headrest. You start to feel the tension in your neck muscles, you feel your abs working too, but your neck is what takes most of the focus.

If this sounds like you then one of the things that could help with this is building up your neck strength!
Neck muscles are just like any other muscle in your body, and they need to be strong to in order to hold your head up in space!

And like with any other muscle the only way to get them strong is by doing specific neck exercises (these may need to be prescribed to you by a physiotherapist).

Why can’t I just keep doing ab curls to get my neck stronger?

Doing an ab curl requires your neck muscles to work against gravity to lift your head up and it may just be that your muscles are not quite up to this level of exercise yet. In this case, there are other specific exercises that you can be given from a physiotherapist to help build you up to an Ab curl in class.


In the Meantime
you can definitely still attend your regular classes, our tip is to leave your head down on the headrest when these exercises pop up in class, you can even put the headrest up for a little bit of extra comfy-ness.

You curl up to do hundreds but you have to lower your head halfway through the exercise as you start to feel extra tension in your neck muscles after being in this position for some time.

If this one sounds like you then it may mean that your neck muscles don’t quite have the endurance to stay up the whole way through the hundred, and once they hit their fatigue point other muscles start to take over, causing a feeling of tightness or tiredness in your neck.

What the hell does that mean?

Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle to go the long haul, think of it as a long distant runner (in your neck)!

With an Ab Curl, you not only need the strength to lift your head and neck up but you also need the endurance to be able to keep your head and neck there for longer periods of time.

How do I improve this?

Keep working on your Ab Curls in class, and when you feel like you start to get tired then that’s your cue to lower your head and neck and take a little rest. You will find that over time your muscles will be able to hold you up in that position for longer and you’ll have no excuse to lower your head and neck down in the Hundred anymore… bugger.

You feel a little bit of pressure in your neck as your curl up, it’s not horrible and you can keep going, but for some bizarre reason, you just can’t feel that Burn in your Abs. You wonder why everyone is groaning away and you’re not

If you are this type of Ab curl-er than it may just come down to your technique and your abdominal strength!

There are a couple of common things we see in this situation;

  1. You probably use your hands to pull your head and neck up off the floor and pull your chin right onto your chest

  2. You lift ONLY your head and neck and your shoulders stay down on the floor/carriage.

The common theme here is that the movement is coming only from your neck.

In order for you to feel the work in your abs, you also need to have movement at the shoulders, which means the top of your shoulder blades and upper back need to lift off the carriage too.

Our Tips

  1. Try to push your head back into your hands so that the weight of your head feels supported by your hands

  2. Try to think of drawing the front of your ribs to your hips and use this to help you lift your head and neck and shoulders off the floor.

Do this and your Abs should start to feel the burn!

If after trying the above tips you are still having trouble getting the feeling in your abs rather than your neck, ask your instructor for some help in your next class, we love getting your belly burning!!!

Happy Hundreds HQers!

Love

Steph & The Pilates HQ Team
xx