Three Exercises most frequently done incorrectly: planks, crunches, wide arm push ups; and how to do them

Have you ever had a stiff neck after doing bicycle crunches or a sore back after doing a plank? Maybe it’s because you’re doing them wrong. What’s the point in unnecessarily hurting yourself while trying to work out?

Kit Rich, celebrity trainer and founder of KICHGO, says these three moves are most often done incorrectly and are also most effective because they are done so regularly. This is why it’s crucial to have correct form.

BICYCLE OR REGULAR CRUNCH

Potential Injuries / common mistakes:

(1) Neck – If you twist from the neck you don’t actually target the core the way you want to and put unwanted pressure on the neck which can cause pain and tightness

(2) Lifting of the hips, rocking

(3) When done incorrectly, you can have pain in your neck and back

How to do it properly:

(1) You want to think about your shoulder blades. Picture hands below the shoulder blades pushing up lifting your chest and back off the floor.  Lift through shoulder blades, twist through rib cage.

(2) You want to keep your hips stable. Imagine hands on top of your hips keeping them still. Legs are extending without the twist of the hips. It’s a very dynamic movement, when done properly it can strengthen your lower abs and obliques.

PLANK

There’s a reason people do plank all the time because it works. This exercise strengthens every muscle in the core which supports the back and hips. The plank is a great exercise because it is effective for any level of fitness or age and there are several modifications to make sure everyone can do it. If done wrong it can be harmful and quite frankly looks messy.

Potential injuries / common mistakes:

(1) Hips are too high

(2) Shoulders are over or behind wrists

(3) No awareness of feet

(4) Neck is dropped and chin is tucked

How to do it properly:

(1) Hips—Picture in your mind that your body is like a table. Head, shoulders, hips and legs are one. The idea is you can put a coffee cup on it and it wouldn’t fall.

(2) Head—Ears are in line with shoulders. This makes sure you neck is also in line with your shoulders. Your chin is neither tucked or out, it’s neutral.

(3) Shoulders—Should be right over your wrists and it should feel like you’re lifting out of the shoulders and pulling them down your back and sliding shoulder blades into pockets down your back.

(4) Hips—Aligned with your shoulders. Make sure you aren’t overarching your back and you’re not over tucking. Remains neutral.

(5) Legs—Strong and straight, squeezing your butt and feet are parallel with your heels right over the balls of your feet.

WIDE ARM PUSH UPS

Push-ups are always the go-to move for those who want to work out their arms. This exercise is extremely effective when done properly, however, it also happens to be one of the most common incorrectly performed moves.

Potential injuries / common mistakes:

(1) Rounding of the shoulders

(2) Dropping of the neck

(3) Tucking of the chin

(4) Arching of the lower back

(5) Lack of engagement in the hands

(6) Can cause injury to neck and shoulders.

How to do it properly:

If you struggle with pushups the best thing to do is start with your knees down in a modified pushup.

(1) You want to think of your head, neck, shoulders, hips and knees in one straight diagonal line

(2) With your arms wide, spread your fingers and push into every single fingertip equally, emphasizing your thumb and index fingers

(3) Pull your chest forward

(4) Shoulders pull down your back

(5) Belly button pulled in (without changing that shape)

(6) Bring your chest down to the floor

(7) Bend your elbows as much as you can and push back up to straight arms

(8) Be mindful to keep your neck in alignment and keep your core engaged

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For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out STLSportsPage.com. Rob Rains, Editor.