MISTAKES TO AVOID SO YOU DON’T GET ANNOYED
It’s exercise time. Group fitness class, woo! Getting my body moving yay!
And now, for the ubiquitous plank pose. ‘Make a straight line with your body’ is the instruction.
You are looking at the perky instructor, craning your neck to get a better view of this “straight line” and it seems like she has transformed into an actual piece of wooden board, in other words, a plank… which results in neck pain.
Your body weight shifts forward to your wrists and you wonder if it’s possible that you now weigh more than you did 20 minutes ago… which results in wrist pain.
And 1 minute of this pose feels like 1,0000 hours as your belly drops and it places undue pressure on your low back… which results in back pain.
Woo…who? Enthusiasm dissipates into pain-induced anger. Which lasts into the next few days. And going to the hardware store, with all its gloried stacks of perfectly cut wooden planks, gives you the cold sweats of anxiety which prompts you to turn around and run out the door. You’ll come back for the light bulbs later. Who needs light in the house, anyway?!
WHY THE “PLANK POSE” IS A STAPLE
It is ubiquitous for a good reason: it is one of the best exercises for your core muscles. An essential pose in most yoga routines, it can also be practiced on its own to build strength and stamina. The Plank Pose tones all of the core muscles of the body, including the abdomen, chest, and low back. It strengthens the arms, wrists, and shoulders, and is often used to prepare the body for more challenging arm balances. The Plank also strengthens the muscles surrounding the spine, which improves posture.
HOW TO CORRECTLY HOLD THE PLANK POSE
Lie face down in a push-up position. Keep your palms on the floor next to your shoulders and your feet flexed with the bottoms of your toes on the floor.
Tip: Spread out your fingers and press into all five fingers equally, this ensures that your weight is not concentrated on your wrists.
Press up into a pushup – your body should make a straight line from your heels to the top of your head. Your shoulders should be stacked above your wrists and your hips should be in line with your upper body.
Tip: Ask your instructor to correct your stance, or glance at a mirror.
Draw your navel toward your spine and tighten your buttocks. Gaze at the floor a few inches in front of your fingertips to keep your head in a neutral position. Breathe normally.
Tip: Keeping your abdominals and gluteal muscles tight helps support your back and prevent back strain. Push your palms into the floor, and keep your arms active – do not sink into your shoulders.
Hold for at least 10 seconds and lower yourself back to the floor.
Tip: Remember to breathe in and out – holding your breath may result in injury.
So in summary, the plank pose is amazing for your whole body.
Bring it on, perky instructor. This pose is not so dreaded anymore. Call me plank, and stick me on the roof. Oh yea, I can totally hold it up.
Need expert tips on exercise and proper form? Get in touch, darling!
Do not practice the full version of the pose if you have carpal tunnel syndrome — either practice the pose on your knees in Half Plank Pose or on your forearms. Those with severe osteoporosis should also avoid Plank Pose due to risk of fractures. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing any form of exercise.