Planks are one of the best and hardest ab workouts that you can do. Rising to popularity in yoga, pilates and HIIT workouts, the plank uses pure core strength to balance yourself in a straight position. It may look easy to the untrained eye, but if you’ve ever tried to hold a plank for 30 seconds to a minute (or longer!) you know that they’re a killer core workout.
Not only do planks test your abdominal strength, they also apply a lot of pressure (mostly just gravity) to your lower back. Because of this, it’s important that you are using proper form in your plank. If you are hyper-extending your back during a plank, you may be doing more damage than good.
To get in the perfect plank position,
- Place your hands, palm down, about shoulder width apart, like you’re about to do a standard push-up
- Place your toes on the floor with your legs also shoulder width apart. Squeeze your glutes in your plank position and don’t lock your knees.
- Your spine and neck should be in a neutralized position. If you’re not familiar with neutral spine, you want to make sure your neck is carried over your shoulders and that your pelvis is also directly under your shoulders, making your spine in a neutral curve.
- Fully engage your core, not your back. Picture pulling your belly button to your spine to keep your torso and back flat.
- Make sure your back is straight. If you can only hold the plank with your back level, try to plank with your knees on the ground or with your forearms on the floor instead of your palms.
Holding the plank in incorrect form can cause back pain due to extra stress on the lower back. Make sure you aren’t dipping your buttocks in order to maintain your plank. Try the easier knees/forearm version and work up to a full plank position if you are working on core stability. Here at OSR, our physical therapists can give you tips on correct posture and form for every exercise that you do in the gym. Form is the most important aspect of your workout. If you aren’t using the correct form, you can not only cause an injury, but you probably aren’t getting the benefits you want from your workout.
If you are suffering from chronic pain, call 488-5555 to make an appointment with Oahu Spine & Rehab in Kailua today!