The plank is a widely used exercise to build core strength. When done optimally, it can build core strength and improve shoulder and spine stabilization.
To get the most benefits from the plank, you want to follow the simple plan of A-B-C.
A stands for alignment of the joints. As outlined in the photos above, maintain your rib cage in alignment with your hips and pelvis. When you can do this, it maintains optimal spine alignment, allowing your core muscles to naturally turn on to maintain this posture without having to 'pull' them in.
B is for three-dimensional breathing. Breathing in a three-dimensional manner allows you to use your deepest core muscle, the diaphragm, maximally. It also helps support your spine in the plank position.
C is for control. Control is when we use the correct effort for the task while maintaining A and B.
Start with the wall plank with the arms extended. Focus on maintaining the above ABCs. If you succeed with this, move to elbows bent and forearms on the wall.
If you can successfully maintain the ABCs while not losing any range of motion in your shoulders, neck or hips, then take the plank to counter or bench height.
How do you know if you have earned the right (E.T.R.) to move to the next progression? Check your range of motion and quality of motion of your neck, shoulders, and hips before and after each set of planks.
If you lose range or the quality of the motion decreases, you have not earned the right to move to the next level of progression.
Why would you lose range or quality of motion? Our nervous systems are very sensitive; when it perceives something is wrong, it attempts to protect us, and getting tight is one mechanism to protect us and our joints. If you cannot maintain joint/spine alignment, do not breathe well or use the wrong type of control, the nervous perceives something is wrong.
So, will you take the plank challenge? Assess how your body moves and feels when exercising and challenge yourself to E.T.R. before moving to the next level of progressions.
Have questions about planks or applying the ABCs of movement so you can earn the right (E.T.R.) to progress? Reach out. We can help.