July 16, 2023

Why Do My Abs Cramp When I Do Crunches?

The tight feeling of abdominal cramping, also known as side stitched, is a common exercise-related pain that can derail even the most disciplined workout. While it’s true that some cramps can be a sign of an overworked muscle, the majority of ab cramping comes from a combination of things including improper technique and an overdose of crunches or other core exercises. Fortunately, there are some quick-wins that can help you stop the twinges and get back to your workout with a clear mind.

Why Do My Abs Cramp When I Do Crunches?

Many people don’t understand how to properly perform a crunch, and it’s not surprising. This classic core exercise can cause neck strain if performed with poor form, resulting in a back and/or shoulder injury.

For example, when performing a crunch, many people arch their backs to use momentum and remove the focus on their core muscles. This can actually lead to a herniated disc because the compression squishes the jelly-like discs that sit between each vertebrae.

Another mistake is allowing your head to lag behind your shoulders, which can strain your neck and cause back pain. To prevent this, make sure to keep an apple-sized space between your chin and chest during each rep. You can even look up at the ceiling to keep your head in place rather than tucking it in.

It’s also important to warm-up prior to your crunch series, which will improve circulation throughout the body and prepare your muscles for a challenging workout. To do this, try adding a 10- to 15-minute cardio component that incorporates movement of the arms, legs and torso. This will draw blood into your muscles, and it will also help prevent the muscle spasms that can come with working a new muscle group to full exertion.


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