If you experience neck pain when you perform abdominal crunches lying flat on the floor, try doing this move with a small, partially deflated ball behind your back. The ball assists you in holding the correct position so you don't overuse your neck muscles. You can also use a firm pillow in place of the ball.
Sit on a flat, level surface with a small, squishy ball placed behind your lower back. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Begin by holding the backs of your thighs and lean back. Tuck your hips under and press your lower back firmly against the ball.
On an exhalation, press your navel down toward the spine to flatten your abdominals. Maintain pressure on the ball as you raise your left arm above your head. Pause for two seconds, then lower your left arm and raise your right arm. Concentrate on compressing your abdominals throughout the entire exercise. Repeat three times with each arm. Release by sitting upright away from the ball. Repeat this exercise two to three times.
Voight is the creator of a line of fitness DVDs, including "Full Body Stretch" and "Ballet BodySculpt."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times