Why Crunches Can Do Damage
Fitness enthusiasts invented crunches in the 70’s and 80’s as an attempt to strengthen the abdominal muscles. The theory is that when you shorten a muscle (pulling your lower and upper portions of the abdominals together), you strengthen the muscle. Other similar exercises like sit ups, v-sits, Pilates, etc. were also invented in an attempt to strengthen the abdominal muscles. The problem with this theory is that the abdominal muscles are unlike other muscles in the body. Connective tissue runs down the center of the abdominal wall, and connective tissue responds quite differently than muscle. Instead of tightening when the muscle flexes, the connective tissue stretches and eventually bulges, damaging the core and leading to back pain, muscle imbalance and internal organ issues.
The Connective Tissue Issue:
- Every time we do a crunch, we put forward, forceful pressure on the linea alba (the connective tissue that connects the sides of our abdominals).
- The stress that the crunch puts on the muscle causes the top and bottom portions of the muscle to shorten, but the middle portion to separate, or bulge.
- At first, it creates micro-tears in the connective tissue, but over time and with increasing intensity and strain, crunches can create a separation called diastasis recti.
- Pregnancy hormones can contribute to exaggerated laxity in the linea alba, making it more vulnerable. The forward pressure of a growing uterus as well as poor nursing positions can add to the damage of the linea alba and the creation of a diastasis.
The True Design
Our core consists of three layers of abdominals, along with multiple layers of back muscles, pelvic floor muscles, and hip stabilizers. Our internal-most muscle is called the transverse abdominis. It is our main core muscle; it stabilizes the spine, supports the organs, assists with posture and allows the rest of our body to function effectively. Your core is used when you lift, reach, jump, carry, bend and do just about everything. When your transverse abdominis is the foundation of your core strength, all of the other muscles are placed in a position of balance and optimal function.
Man invented crunches in an attempt to strengthen the abdominal wall. Unfortunately, these movements and their repetition are not part of the body’s normal function. Our bodies were designed to spend most of their time in upright positions – standing, walking, and being active – with our entire core and back engaged and stable. In order to work the recti from the middle, we need to work the transverse muscle, but not with traditional ab exercises. The Tummy Team begins with daily functional core strength activities and then we transition you into tummy-safe fitness where every exercise you do will reinforce and increase your core strength.
We Work with Athletes
The Tummy Team works with athletes at every level from stay at home moms to Olympic level athletes. We work with moms to develop simple and effective at home fitness strategies that fit into their lives. We support and rehabilitate marathon runners, triathletes, and serious recreational athletes in their athletic pursuits. We also work with Junior Olympic and Olympic athletes to help train them safely for their events while preventing injury, as well as recovering from previous core muscle imbalances. The Tummy Team wants you to be active and strong and live your best life, including the fitness and sports you love. We can give you the tools to make wise decisions in your athletic pursuit, whatever that may be.
Beth Learn - Fit2B Online Fitness
The Tummy Team is primarily core rehabilitation. While we will give you the essential guidelines to make wise fitness choices, we would highly recommend Beth Learn from Fit2b studios to help progress your fitness goals.
Fit2B is The Tummy Team’s TummySafe™ fitness partner. Fit2B is an online gym that offers wholesome workouts to the whole family. You can stream affordable TummySafe™ fitness anywhere, anytime! With members worldwide, you’ll receive unlimited access to over 100 routines, and the family-friendly focus keeps things modest, safe and fun for all ages.