The PLANK is one of the best exercises for core stability. If you’ve never tried one, a plank may look easy, almost too easy to be beneficial, but don’t be deceived.
The core stabilization system includes the transverse abdominis, internal obliques, pelvic floor musculature, diaphragm, transversospinalis, and multifidus. Yes, lots of 13-letter words, but basically all of the muscles that support your spine, aid in proper posture, improve balance and movement function.
Set up on all fours, hands under shoulders, knees and feet hip width apart. Draw your navel inwards towards your spine. Brace your core to maintain a neutral your spine. Stabilize your hands firmly on the floor, slowly straighten your legs, one at a time, lifting the hips to shoulder height. HOLD.
- Breathe deeply from your diaphragm
- Keep your shoulders down, away from your ears – engaging your lats helps to stabilize your shoulders
- Keep your cervical spine neutral with ears aligned over the shoulders and chin tucked
- Draw your naval in towards your spine, brace your core.
- Keep hands directly below the shoulders; *Option to plank on your forearms
- Squeeze your gluteal, abdominal, and thigh muscles simultaneously.
Be particularly careful doing planks if you have back pain or injury. If you’re just starting out, try holding the plank position for several seconds only, slowly increasing time as your body allows.
In addition, be careful to avoid these common plank mistakes:
- Allowing your hips, head, or shoulders to drop
- Placing your hands too close together, which creates internal rotation, elevation and dysfunction in your shoulder complex
- Holding your breath
- Trying to hold the position too long – it is better to maintain proper form for a shorter period of time than to hold improper form for longer