Building a strong core often starts with simple ab exercises, like crunches. These can be done anywhere, with no equipment, by people of all fitness levels! But even though crunches are beginner-friendly, you could still accidentally hurt yourself if you do them incorrectly. In fact, many people complain that their necks hurt after doing crunches, according to Cassey Ho, a certified Pilates and fitness instructor and the founder of Blogilates. "The number one complaint I hear about crunches is that people's necks hurt — which is not where you should be feeling it," Ho explains in the TikTok video above. In the clip, she offers easy tips for performing crunches without straining your neck.
Ho demonstrates several best practices for doing crunches correctly (like planting your feet hip-width apart and keeping your elbows wide), as well as a few examples of bad form (like cupping your head or pulling your neck). She ends the video by explaining that you should never feel neck pain while doing crunches.
Working out should hurt a little — you're building muscle, after all! — but if you feel pain in your neck, that's usually a sign that something has gone wrong. I followed Ho's tips and noticed a huge difference in my crunches. When I widened my elbows, my abs had to work even harder, and I didn't feel the strain in my neck that I typically do after a core workout. Sore abs are a good kind of pain.