Planks are an excellent way to strengthen your core. However, proper alignment from your head to your toes is vital to get the most out of this effective exercise.
When doing a plank, focus your attention on being strong and straight like an arrow - make sure that your low back does not sag. This is the most common error with planks. To correct this faulty alignment, pull the pit of your stomach in and up toward your heart. Make sure you do not draw the pit of your stomach so far in that you round your back.
Your hands are shoulder distance apart and are positioned directly under your shoulders. Make sure your shoulders are slid away from your ears. Open your chest, press your breastbone forward.
Lengthen your neck and reach your head away from your toes. Your gaze should be 1-2 feet out on the floor ahead of you.
Gently squeeze your buttocks and press your inner thighs and your lower legs together. Root yourself into the ground with your flexed toes.
Maintain this position for 5 seconds to 1 minute and do 3-5 repetitions. You may experience some shaking but this is fine as long as you maintain this optimal alignment. There should be no discomfort in your low back.
The PILATES MiniMAX allows you to do the plank without weight-bearing through your wrists. This is helpful if you have wrist issues or carpal tunnel syndrome. The picture below demonstrates the plank done on the PILATES MiniMAX.
Make sure that your elbows are positioned directly under your shoulders. Your right hand is a fist and encircle it with your left hand - making a tripod of strength of your arms.
If you have trouble with the plank exercise, next week we will go over the table plank, which is an excellent modification, especially if you have back pain.