Why Crunches are Harmful for Diastasis and What to Do Instead

The Problem with Crunches

Many people at the gym incorporate crunches into their workout routine, either on their own or with the guidance of a personal trainer. However, what most of them don't realize is that crunches can actually create or worsen a condition called diastasis, leading to various health issues such as back pain, postural problems, pelvic floor complications, and gastrointestinal disturbances. In this article, we'll delve into why crunches are detrimental for diastasis and provide alternative exercises that are safer and more effective.

Why Crunches Create Diastasis

  1. Working the Muscles in the Wrong Direction

To understand why crunches contribute to diastasis, it's essential to grasp the concept of muscle lengthening and shortening. When you aim to strengthen a muscle, you want to make it shorter, not longer. Unfortunately, during a crunch, the abdominal muscles are being elongated instead of contracted. To observe this yourself, try the following exercise:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  • Place one hand under your head and the other on your belly.
  • Close your eyes and mentally bring your belly button back towards your spine, engaging your transverse muscle.
  • Lift your head and shoulders off the floor while maintaining the contraction in your transverse muscle.
  • Notice that your muscles move forward towards your hand, indicating lengthening rather than shortening.
  1. Force on the Connective Tissue

In addition to working the muscles in the wrong direction, crunches also exert force on the connective tissue that joins the outermost abdominal muscles, known as the recti muscles. This can further contribute to diastasis. The inability to fully engage the transverse muscle when the shoulders come off the floor makes it challenging to prevent this forward movement, leading to strain on the connective tissue.

The Alternative: The Head Lift

To avoid the negative effects of crunches, it's recommended to replace them with an alternative exercise known as the head lift. This exercise targets the transverse muscle and promotes diastasis healing. Here's how to perform the head lift:

  1. Position yourself in a back lying position with knees bent.
  2. Place your hands on your belly.
  3. Lift your head, ensuring that your chin touches your chest (not leading with your chin).
  4. Keep your hands on your belly to monitor the engagement of your transverse muscle.
  5. If you have neck problems, you can modify the exercise by omitting the head lift and solely focusing on the transverse muscle contraction.

The Importance of Saying No to Crunches

Crunches may seem like a go-to exercise for abdominal strengthening, but they are counterproductive for diastasis recti. By understanding the negative impact of crunches and embracing alternative exercises like the head lift, you can avoid exacerbating diastasis and promote healing.

Embrace a Safer and More Effective Approach

It's time to bid farewell to crunches and adopt exercises that prioritize the proper engagement of the transverse muscle. The Say Good Bye to Your Gut Guys DVD provides a detailed explanation of the head lift technique and offers guidance for strengthening the transverse muscle. Remember, a strong core is achievable without compromising the integrity of your abdominal muscles. Say no to crunches and say yes to diastasis-safe exercises.

In case you missed our Tupler Tip of the week, you can watch it here:


To learn more about Diastasis Recti & the Tupler Technique® read this article: DIASTASIS RECTI RESEARCH AND EVIDENCED BASED EXERCISE PROGRAM

See the program that can get you a flat belly

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To learn more about Diastasis Recti & the Tupler Technique® read this article: DIASTASIS RECTI RESEARCH AND EVIDENCED BASED EXERCISE PROGRAM

Watch the short video below to know what a diastasis is.


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