This exercise is intended to strengthen the abdominal wall, and if done correctly can also create length in the thoracic and low spine.
To do this exercise you will need a mat. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted in the floor. Your hands should be clasped together behind your head. Inhale into the back of your ribs and exhale as you press your ribcage into the ground and lift your head neck and shoulders. Inhale at the top and exhale as you release your head neck and shoulders to the ground vertebra by vertebra. Repeat 8-10 times.
Things to think about
This seemingly simple exercise is filled with many variables. I always tell people that if you can do more than ten of these (aka I just did three hundred crunches…You’ve heard this I know you have) that you’re not doing it right. This exercise takes a great amount of mindfulness and awareness of the moving body to get the most benefit.
Also if you have a diagnosis of Osteoporosis, this is not the abdominal exercise for you. Flexion of the spine increases the chance of vertebral fracture. In this case the toe taps in all of its various form would be a better abdominal strengthening exercise because they are an excellent source of abdominal work that leaves the spine safe and even strengthens it.
Now the most important thing about the abdominal curl is the breath. The inhale into the back of the ribs lengthens and opens tissue in the spine so that the spine is able to bend easily. It is also important to be aware of the exhale and that it is a complete exhale. As the air is leaving your lungs the diaphragm is moving into the ribcage and lengthening the Psoas. With this length you body will be in the ideal place to flex the spine.
Neck placement is also something to be aware of. As you are doing this exercise your want there to be a slight nod to your head. Your focus should be at your navel not at the ceiling