Implementing core work as part of your training routine has many benefits. Not only will having a stronger core help you perform other exercises much better, such as barbell squats, but it will actually help ease lower back pain. A lot of the time an impingement in the lumbar (lower part of the back) is due to a weak over stretch abdomen which pulls your centre of gravity forward, therefore causing daily discomfort. One key way of strengthening your core is planking.
The best thing about planking is that it can be done anywhere, your bedroom floor, a hotel room, the park, the beach or even your office floor, and it is time efficient too! So give this side plank a go, a different variation to your regular plank.
- your core, particularly your oblique muscles (side abs).
- It will also challenge your balance, therefore every muscle needs to be engaged and activated.
Using the photo above as a starting point…
- Make sure that you are not creating a banana shape with your body by ensuring that your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders are in one line and don’t stick your bum out.
- Make sure that your shoulders are also level and that the chest is facing forward.
- Every muscle is engaged, activated and held tight (even your glutes and shoulder girdle are part of your core).
- Don’t let your hips drop as you hold the position (hold for as long as 20 seconds to 1 minute, depending on your level of strength and balance).
- BREATHE! Deeply and calmly. Sounds a little silly, but a lot of people actually hold their breath during this exercise.
- Make sure you perform this on BOTH sides.
As I stated, use the demonstration in the photo above as a starting point, this may be too hard, too easy or may become easy over time.
To make it a little easier:
- Shorten the space between your torso and the floor by resting on your forearm instead of your palm.
- Make more points of contact on the floor by also putting down both feet (one behind the other) instead of on top of each other.
To make it harder:
- Get into the position as pictured and lift the top leg so that you are creating a star shape. (Remember, no bananas, so don’t stick your bum out)
- You can also make it more challenging by including an ab twist. Post the free hand through the gap, causing your torso to twist whilst keeping your hips facing forward. HOWEVER, only do this if your core AND lower back are strong enough and you don’t experience any back pain.
An exercise for everyone to try, no matter what your fitness level may be, so give it a go and let us know how you got on!