Is it time to stop using the “Ab Crunch” cue?

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I don’t usually make long videos (20 min) for YouTube, but the “ab crunch” cue is so deeply entrenched in cross-country skiing that it merits a thorough discussion.

You don’t need to watch this the screen to get the gist of my arguments, so go ahead and multitask!

Here are some of the reasons I don’t like this cue:

  1. It encourages flexion in the spine, which scientists who research spine biomechanics advise against.
  2. You should be able to flex your torso forward to power your pole push by moving at the  hip joint and maintaining a neutral spine. (More likely “neutral-ish”, since most of us already lost that…)
  3. You can still use your “abs”, even if you don’t flex your spine.
  4. We already flex our spines forward way too much!

And, to be a good sport, here is a reason to like the “Crunch” cue:

  1. It may help skiers use their poles more powerfully.

It takes forever for out of date cues to pass away. I still hear skiers say you should turn your torso to face each ski in skate skiing. (That’s an ancient idea.)

I’m sure skiers will be “crunching” for years to come, but maybe this video will prompt some much-needed debate.

Want to add to the list of pros and cons? Leave a comment below.

2 thoughts on “Is it time to stop using the “Ab Crunch” cue?”

  1. this is old school … and full of overieneralities… such as comparing the knee bent situp to a plank as if that epitomizes the issue which it doesn’t….modern thinkers, body workers/PT’s
    are more wholistic and include glute activation, and the entire posterior chain as
    integral and critical to balanced hips and backs… obviously if u r underutilizing your glutes and posterior chain you will over-compensate elsewhere and can easily strain knees, hips, lower back or if not just not be efficiently, maximally using your muscular potential.

    A basic video showing correct knee position and hip hinging which is vastly more important
    than a chin tuck, shoulder and rib adjustments which were likely made because someone was
    trying to recruit more strength which comes from foundation… ie lower ie posterior chain and glute activation.

    For support of my contention check these out, Great overview and also some great tweaks on basic exercises.
    I am not sure they are the best out there but both are very good (I have no relationship in any way to the person producing the videos).
    – Hip Hinge & Turning on the Glutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNyvAqW8fkY
    – Small Change to Lunge for Better Running https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxUFopLp5yQ

    And finally having a good PT muscle test for hamstring, calf, glute strength both overall and comparing two sides. It’s critical that any program, advice be customized to each person’s individual body.

    imho of course

    fwiw,

    Larry K.
    Western Massachusetts, USA xc skier, dancer and dance instructor, former tennis teaching pro.

  2. this is old school … and full of overieneralities… such as comparing the knee bent situp to a plank as if that epitomizes the issue which it doesn’t….modern thinkers, body workers/PT’s
    are more wholistic and include glute activation, and the entire posterior chain as
    integral and critical to balanced hips and backs… obviously if u r underutilizing your glutes and posterior chain you will over-compensate elsewhere and can easily strain knees, hips, lower back or if not just not be efficiently, maximally using your muscular potential.
    A basic video showing correct knee position and hip hinging which is vastly more important
    than a chin tuck, shoulder and rib adjustments which were likely made because someone was
    trying to recruit more strength which comes from foundation… ie lower ie posterior chain and glute activation.
    For support of my contention check these out, Great overview and also some great tweaks on basic exercises.
    I am not sure they are the best out there but both are very good (I have no relationship in any way to the person producing the videos).
    – Hip Hinge & Turning on the Glutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNyvAqW8fkY
    – Small Change to Lunge for Better Running https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxUFopLp5yQ
    And finally having a good PT muscle test for hamstring, calf, glute strength both overall and comparing two sides. It’s critical that any program, advice be customized to each person’s individual body.
    imho of course
    fwiw,
    Larry K.
    Western Massachusetts, USA xc skier, dancer and dance instructor, former tennis teaching pro.

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