Planks are one of the most commonly used exercises to train the “core”. Unfortunately most people plop down into a plank and end up completely disengaged. Instead of training the abdominals and other stabilizers they end up putting all the stress into the lower lumbar spine and end up depending on the ligaments of the lumbar spine to hold them up.
Keeping the lower spine in neutral position rather than hyper extension is the most optimal position. A cue that you can use for training the plank is to contract the glutes and bring your tail bone towards your belly button. The attached video shows the different between a bad plank with anterior pelvic tilt and a neutral position. When the hips are in anterior pelvic tilt the ribs are flare out and the core/trunk cannot be engaged.
It is better to bring the hips up a bit and find neutral spine and some glute engagement rather than dropping the hips too low and start to drift into hyperextension of the lower back. Many times really tight hip flexors could be causing this position as well as other factors, so if the cuing doesn’t work, or if you find that you have to keep your hips way too high to be in good position, then other corrective measures may be needed.
For individuals with severe anterior pelvic tilt while standing, planks could possibly be contraindicated. Rib and hip position are crucial. Keeping the ribs down instead of being flared and hips directly underneath the ribs is crucial if you want to actually work your core.
If you can get into the correct position a really great addition to the plank is to keep your body in a solid position and then do a big isometric contraction and drive your elbows towards your toes. Don’t actually shift your arms or body, but rather just apply the tension to the ground. You will feel your trunk light up and your abs go on fire!
As we say, if you are going to do something do it right. Watch the video for more info!
If you’re looking for help getting stronger, improving your technique, or you’d like to meet with one of our instructors for a free consultation, please give us a call at (520)445-6800 today and we’ll be happy to help. OR, fill out the information below and we can reach out to you.