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The Power of a Proper Plank

modified plank hemmett health

One of the most common core exercises that people utilize at home is the plank. It requires no equipment, works multiple body regions, and if done correctly can strengthen the core and help with multiple injuries. The key words here are “if done correctly”. It’s a great exercise and feels super challenging, but it’s very easy to get wrong.

Some common mistakes are:

-lifting your butt too high to compensate

-letting your lower back sag down and arching your mid back

-looking up and straining your neck                         

Luckily, there are easy fixes for these things! All it takes is concentration, proper muscle activation, and modifications.

A plank should look like the picture below. A nice straight line from the top of your head, to your shoulders, through your torso, to the hips, and then to the feet.  hemmett-health-how-to-do-a-plank                         

The main focus here is to engage your core. By engaging your core, your lower back doesn’t sag down. Imagine there’s a line connecting your belly button to your lumbar spine and pull your belly button back to your spine. This will engage your deep core muscle and help to keep that lower back from going into too much hyperextension. This is especially important for people with lower back pain. Now that your core is engaged, keep your gaze down at your hands, or just in front of your hands to keep your neck in a neutral position.

If this seems too difficult and you find yourself struggling to keep your core engaged or you find the need to lift your butt in the air, then you will probably need to modify your plank position until you get stronger.

A modified plank is done from the knees. It is the same concept of having a straight line from head to hips and engaging your deep core muscles, but now it’s a little bit easier and you can concentrate more on your form.

modified plank hemmett health               

You don’t need to hold a plank for minutes and minutes to get a good work out. Your body will let you know when you need a break. As soon as you feel your form is being compromised and you cant engage that deep core muscle, then its time to take a break and restart. If you can only hold a perfect plank for 8 seconds, that’s okay! Just repeat multiple times and you will still get a good work out. Quality over quantity!

Planks can help to gain strength in your core and in turn can help prevent low back pain. This exercise can also be used in conjunction with pelvic floor contractions to gain strength in your pelvic floor.

Always be advised that if you find you are only getting pain while doing a plank, this may not be the exercise for you. This can be a more advanced exercise and you may need to work up to it. It helps to have someone around or a mirror near by so that you can check on your form.

Questions? Comment below this post, or give us a call at our South Burlington or Montpelier VT locations for a consultation!

The HemmettHealth Team


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