Planks are a commonly recommended exercise to increase core and abdominal strength. This single exercise works many muscles effectively and efficiently…. if done properly! Planks do require a decent amount of strength and stability and an individual may need to take progressive steps in order to master this exercise. A complaint that is heard most often is feeling a “pinch”, “strain”, or “pain” in the lower back, neck pain or overall discomfort.
There are many reasons someone may be unable to tolerate planks, however, some common reasons that an individual may feel these sensations are listed below:
1. Buttock is too high up into that air and spine is not aligned. This causes more force to be placed on arms and upper body causing strain through upper quarter of body and neck.
2. Pelvis is tilting too far forwards causing an arched back. If you are not engaging these muscles, you will be putting your spine at an end range and causing a lot of force throughout the low back area.
3. Hips are too close to the floor/sagging causing poor alignment (rounded) in spine.
No problem! Right? Make sure you are focusing on quality to get the most benefit.
1. Focus on alignment; spine should be a straight line (including neck) and gaze should be down towards floor. Muscles around shoulder blades should be activate and avoid hunching shoulders up towards ears.
2. Learn where neutral pelvis positioning. Avoiding end range of spine by trying to keep a “flat back” , pulling belly in towards spine and focus on control.
3. When starting out, proper positioning and alignment is more important than how long the plank is held for. Activate core and back muscles to form a straight line from head to toe. Use a mirror for visual feedback to see you are lined up.
Other Tips: 1. If you are new to planks; start on elbows and knees so you can focus on positioning and core control and neutral position through pelvis 2. Be active and strong through your mid-back and shoulder blade area to avoid “sagging”.
Please always check with a health care provider before starting any new exercise routine, or visit your neighborhood Physical Therapist at Mizuta & Associates Physical Therapy