Kids & Crunches

posted in: Fit2B, homeschool, thoughts | 0

kids-crunchesI always so feel guilty doing something “just for me”. That chocolate bar sneaking into the cart hoping the kids don’t see. That half hour taken for a bath and good book. Quietly slipping out of the house to take a walk or go to the grocery store alone. Sticking in a DVD for the kids just so I can have a few minutes of quiet…..

I know, I know…. it’s important as moms to take care of ourselves, to take those moments we can to regroup and relax and to make our own health as important as our focus on our family, but it still brings that occasional feeling of guilt.

Of course, when I make health changes for myself, I often try to make them for the whole family when it is feasible. Over the last few years as I have learned about the importance of our core and how pregnancy often leaves some resulting core issues that need to be addressed and healed, I have been on this path to healing and strengthening my own core.  As I have educated myself and learned more and more in the fitness world I have realized like many areas of healthy living, things are ever changing. As we continue to learn about the body and its incredible design we learn new and better ways to treat, heal, support and strengthen the body. One of these areas is in the idea that sit ups and crunches will strengthen the core effectively and are safe for everyone. This just is not true.

Read these thoughts……

When Crunches Make Your Pooch Worse

“Abs” without Crunches

How to have a Stronger, More Flat Stomach

Why Crunches Don’t Work

How Sit-ups Hurt Veterans with Diastasis Recti

Researching Diastasis Recti and Tummy Safe Gym Routines (excellent printable here)

6 Fitness Guidelines for Everyone

The Personal Trainers Guide to Diastasis

{Please do read through those links…. I am not going to reiterate what was explained so well by those experts above, but rather continue my thoughts based on my understanding of those articles!}

Now, I know most of those articles were aimed at the mom crowd and healing an existing diastasis or weak core but here’s my concern…..

It is said that “Form Follows Function”

If this is true, and I do think it is, then this concept that sit-ups and crunches are an effective way to strengthen a growing core and to build a strong core in our children as they grow needs to be addressed!

If doing crunches and sit-ups is not beneficial to me, {as a mom, who has had 8 pregnancies, carried 6 to term and vaginally delivered all of them and has since healed an 8+ wide diastasis after my youngest!} then are having my growing children doing sit-ups and crunches really beneficial for them? For my boys, they love to test each others strengths and be strong. You will often find them wrestling each other, racing in the yard, challenging each other – “look what I can do, can you do this?”. They are pretty typical boys 😉
And for my girls, while they may not roughhouse around like the boys, I still want them to be physically fit and to grow and strengthen their sweet bodies as they grow and I want them to go into their own childbearing years in a good and strong place, knowledgeable about their bodies and its capabilities.

And so, as they are getting older and exposed to more of the ‘mainstream fitness’, I struggle when I see them doing those crunch moves that are so common in children’s exercises. I have discussed this with my older boys and explained much of what I have expressed above. And thanks to the wonderful resources at Fit2B, (read this article and watch the video at the end), the boys and I have put together a few “better options” for them to do when others around do sit-ups and crunches. Ideally, they would rotate through a couple of these during those times and continue to strengthen their cores, just in a safer manner for their long term health and growth.

See, here’s the thing, doing a few crunches and sit-ups here and there as an 8 or 10 year old probably isn’t going to cause any long term damage or concern. However, continuing to do these in high quantities as they are older, into their young adult years, they could be setting themselves up for some concerning issues.

And so, we should be training them from the start to do exercises that will be beneficial long term, that will effectively strengthen their core and set them up for strong bodies and a healthy core down the road!

And so, here are the exercises, along with some examples…. forgive us that they are not always in perfect form…. they are still learning and working on it! But, I share this with you in hopes that you might be encouraged to research this topic and be comfortable with alternatives to the mainstream options and as we can teach others, one by one, we can strengthen those around us as well.

Planks – As explained in the photos, you can vary the height of your plank and challenge your strength and switch from on the front to the side and add in the various leg lift options

With planks, someone with a weak core would need to use caution, however, with my boys knowing they are at a point of growing and strengthening, I think this is a good option.

Mountain Climbers– this is one the boys like cause they can do them “so fast”, but if you are intentional about your alignment and actively engaging your core with each interchange, they will be more effective than just “running in place” 😉

Knee Wipers – these are also a nice way to stretch and get some good core work in at the same time. Again, actively engage the core and breathe well as you switch from side to side

Shoulder Bridge – this is one the boys have learned through wrestling, and while it may not be a good one for a damaged or weak core, as long as the core is engaged well during the entire bridge, I am ok with the boys doing this one, especially as it especially works the core well as you extend the leg.

Click any photo below to enlarge!

 

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So, I encourage you to consider this and perhaps encourage those kids in your life to be more intentional about strengthening their core with some alternatives to those “old fashioned” crunches and sit-ups. What are some other exercises that you could add to this list?

 

{Hey parents, do you have kids in public arenas and would like to share this information with their coaches and teachers? Please feel free to share this post with them and you may also find this printable for teachers and instructors specifically helpful as well!}