(The Spinal Hygiene 101 newsletter series will focus on helping you protect and hold your structural corrections and improving overall spinal health)
Starting an exercise routine can sometimes be very intimidating and complex, but today we are going to talk about a simple exercise that can be done at home with no equipment and doesn’t require a lot of time.
Planks look so simple that one might assume it’s not doing anything at all – but don’t be fooled. This exercise works out your abs, obliques, hips, and back. In fact, it is one of the best exercises you can do for core conditioning.
So what is a plank? A plank is where you hold the trunk of your body off the ground in a straight line.
Here are the instructions from the American Council on Exercise
- Hold your elbows directly under your shoulders and place your wrists in line with your elbows.
- Push your body up into your upper back and hold your chin close to your neck (like you’re holding an egg between your chin and your throat).
- In this position, brace your abdominals-contract them as if you were expecting a punch in your stomach, squeeze your gluteal (tailbone) and thigh muscles simultaneously while continuing to breathe normally.
- Hold a plank at least 20 to 30 seconds. (When using correct form, it is not necessary to hold it for longer than this amount of time.) Rest for approximately one minute and repeat three to five more times.
- Start doing the plank using your elbows and toes (feel free to drop to your knees if necessary) and progress up to a high plank when you feel you have developed the necessary strength.
- Make sure to pull in your bellybutton while you are in the Plank position!
TOP THREE BENEFITS OF PLANKS
- Reduces low back pain
- Increases spinal flexibility
- Improves balance and posture
A FEW EXTRA TIPS
- Don’t hold your breath while you are doing planks
- Make sure your elbows and hands are shoulder width apart
- Avoid holding the position too long (proper form is more important then length of time)
Incorporating planks into your daily routine will help to protect your structural corrections and improve your spinal hygiene!
For some extra motivation, check out this video of the Guinness World Record holder for the longest plank – impressive!