Planking is a super exercise that has blown up in popularity during recent years and, while plank-offs on YouTube make for exciting competition, the greatest thing about planking is that you can challenge yourself from the comfort of your home. As far as value per minute goes, the plank is one of the most efficient exercises out there: with little movement required, it conditions even the deepest layer of abdominal fascia; adding to core stability, boosting the flexibility of the posterior chain and reducing pain in the lower back.
As with all stretches, a good plank requires knowledge of proper form, so here are some elements to keep in mind
- Elbows directly under shoulders
- Wrists aligned with elbows
- Push body upwards, holding chin close to neck, as though you are trying to cradle an egg between them.
- Contract abdominals, squeeze glutes and thigh muscles
- Hold 20-30 seconds; no more is necessary! Rest 1 minute and repeat 3-5 times.
A bonus tip is to pull your belly button in to target the transverse abdominus muscle. If you are starting from scratch, don’t expect to be a planking wizard on day 1; it may even be hard to hold for 10 seconds. But if you have the patience and perseverance to keep at it, the benefits will be enormous. Furthermore, mastering the basic low plank sets a good foundation so that you can move on to variations of the exercise: side-planks and high planks target different muscle groups giving you a much more holistically conditioned mid-section. At Haynes Chiropractic, we specialize in helping people find pain relief naturally; conditioning the core as a stabilizer and keeping the posterior chain flexible are two great ways to prevent or temper lower back pain.
Dr. Jeff Haynes, D.C.