Elevation Physiotherapy | How To Do A Proper Plank
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How To Do A Proper Plank

How To Do A Proper Plank

There has been plenty of conversation lately around doing plank exercises after age 50—is it safe?  What is the effect of estrogen depletion of skeletal muscles? Can doing planks to strengthen the core actually cause a prolapse of the pelvic organs?

The answer is a resounding NO—planks can continue to be a great strengthening exercise, but there is more to it than that.

  1. Like any other exercise you would ever do, your form really matters.  Don’t start planking at a level that is beyond where you are. Start on your knees or a modified version and progress onto your toes as your strength improves.
  2. Make sure that you are engaging your pelvic floor muscles while you are holding your plank—meaning that you have to know that you are engaging them properly, and remember to breathe as well
  3. You have not become fragile when you reach age 50, or beyond for that matter! Decreasing levels of estrogen in your body has been shown to reduce the strength in our skeletal muscle.  Let’s not forget that general inactivity, at any age, will also decrease strength in our skeletal muscle. There is also evidence to show that we can still build muscle when we age, and everybody should do this!
  4. When you stop challenging your body physically, you WILL get weaker over time.  That is the same for all muscles.  Many people have weak pelvic floor muscles because they don’t work them specifically unless they have developed a problem! So if you are starting to plank (at any age), you should have a pelvic health physiotherapist assess you if:
    1. You leak urine while holding a plank
    1. You feel a heaviness or pressure in your pelvic floor after planking
    1. You can’t hold good form
    1. You are experiencing back or hip pain to do a plank

HOW TO DO A PROPER PLANK:

  • Keep your body in a straight line, whether you are on your knees or your toes
  • Tuck your pelvis under
  • Stack your elbows under your shoulders
  • Think about pushing away the floor with your elbows
  • Squeeze your glutes hard!
  • Keep your hips level: don’t let them sag or rise up
  • Remember to breathe