Upping the Plank Challenge

25 July, 2018

How are you doing with your Plank Challenge? Are you participating? Are you seeing improvements? Do you need any help? Ask a RED VEST trainer to check your form or make suggestions!

In our brain health article, we talk about the importance of reducing stress. Planks target muscle groups that are often strained and knotted and contribute to overall stress in our bodies. Carol O'Neill, Lead Massage Therapist at island Fitness, points out "weakness and stress in your shoulders can cause tightness and compensation in your neck, weakness or tightness in your glutes and hamstrings can contribute to low back pain. In the long term, strengthening the muscles around your pelvic girdle and your shoulder girdle will alleviate low back and neck pain and tension. Massage works well in concert with regular core strengthening exercises to support alignment of your spine."

Planking helps to strengthens glutes and thighs and lays the foundation to activate your abdominals. Increasing shoulder strength and focusing on proper breathing can reduce neck strain and develop your core.  

Different plank variations offer benefits for different areas of the body. To keep your workout interesting alternate styles of plank during your weekly workout routines.

If you have been planking you need more challenge, try these variations:

Side Plank - lying on your side start with your right side make sure your legs are straight. Raise yourself up in your right forearm. Arm perpendicular to your body. Elevate your hips and knees of the ground. If you need to, you can rest your left hand on the floor to help stabilize and or drop one or both knees to the floor. Repeat on other side.

Reverse Plank - Sit on the ground with legs straight in front of you. Place hands palm down on the floor below your shoulders. Contract your glutes and hamstrings pressing your hips upwards. Alternately you can start with elbows on floor instead of hands.

Leg Lift - Start in your full plank position. Stabilize your trunk and pelvis. Lift one leg and hold for 3-5 seconds. Repeat on other side.

Plank is a simple and effective exercise that helps you build stability and strength throughout your entire body. This can help to reduce stress in your neck and low back and support proper breathing. Your brain and your butt will thank you.

Cautions for planking

 
  • If you feel pain, especially in your neck or low back, this may mean that you need to modify the plank position (see alternatives listed above).
  • Watch that you do not allow your head, hips or shoulders sag (see good form above and common mistakes listed above). Using improper form can lead to injuries for the very muscle groups you are working to strengthen.
  • Do not hold your breath. Your body needs a constant flow of oxygen to exercise properly!
  • We do not recommend holding a plank for an extended period of time on a regular basis. If you can hold a plank for 2 minutes or longer, try a harder version. (See next weeks e-blast for plank variations!)
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