Due to the minimal movement required, doing planks look deceitfully easy when in reality, it’s anything but.
Planking can immensely boost fitness levels, requires no equipment, and engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously. It reaps great benefits for the whole body and may help in keeping the physiatrist away.
1. Doing planks decreases your risk of injury in the back and spinal column.
Planking is a type of exercise that builds muscle while ensuring that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine and hips. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), doing planks on a regular basis not only reduces back pain, but it also strengthens your muscles. They add that planking ensures a strong support for your entire back.
While some exercises like sit-ups and crunches can weaken and potentially injure the back, doing planks will provide the opposite and actually help strengthen it. What’s more, doing planks eliminates the constant strain caused by flexing by extending of the spinal column.
2. Doing planks promotes better bone and joint health.
Physical activity not only keeps our muscles toned, but it’s vital to achieve and maintain healthy bones and supple joints.
For instance, weight-bearing exercises are crucial to bone health. These types of activities put stress on the bones attached to our muscles, stimulating them to rebuild. Supporting your body weight, like you do when you plank, is an excellent weight-bearing exercise which won’t see you overdo it.
3. Doing planks improves the body’s core strength.
One of the greatest benefits of doing planks on the daily is that they strengthen the core — the muscles, bones, and joints that link the upper and lower body. Because of the way we utilize the core for support, to lift, turn, reach and bend — it is one of the most important areas of the body to work on. When your core strength improves, everyday tasks become easier, and you instantly feel stronger.
According to the ACE, “because the plank exercise requires minimal movement while contracting all layers of the abdominal fascia, it is an excellent way to strengthen the core, which, in turn, also helps reduce low-back pain.”
How to hold a plank position
Holding the plank position requires you to squeeze and engage all the main core muscle groups, namely the transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, external oblique muscle, and the glutes. In the simplest of terms, holding a proper plank position is as follows:
Step 1: Get on the floor and hold a push-up position.
Step 2: Bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your body’s weight on your forearms.
Step 3: Keep your torso aligned and your body in a straight line from head to toe.
Step 4: Keep your head looking directly at the floor.
Step 5: Hold the position for as long as you possibly can.
Step 6: Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
Step 7: When your form begins to drop, don’t hesitate to pull the plug. Remember that you only benefit from a plank by actually doing it.
As with any forms of exercise, you risk injuring your body if you fail to use the correct technique. If you have any health issues or physical ailments, always consult your doctor before embarking on a new fitness routine.