8 variations of planking to maximize core stability.

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Many articles discuss the core and how important it is for a healthy function back and gait. There are many variations of planking that claim to achieve this. The truth is, the core is not your abdominals, or your glutes, or your erectors.   It is the entire region that stabilizes you as you walk or run. It is affected by how we have adapted since we were children.  We grew, learned to walk, and adapted to our athletic activities and injuries.  Fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles and organs in our body is part of how we develop strength, firing patterns, and core stability. The idea that just strengthening the core with exercises is pervasive in many magazines, but tight legs or shoulders will adversely affect the core. Flexibility, overall mobility, and ultimately power is a combination of functions of fascia, muscles, and fitness. To achieve a stronger core, you must have a properly functioning fascial system. As we now understand, the fascial system if tight will affect stability and core strength, and then the brain will memorize even poor movement patterns and reinforce them.

How can you tell if your core is dysfunctional?

Stand on one leg for 30 seconds, then the other.  Are you losing your balance or falling over?  These are symptoms of core stability issues. Can you squat without losing your balance or falling over?  These are additional signs.   Standing for an hour and then tightening up is another sign of a dysfunctional core. Since it is hard to be objective about yourself, a chiropractor who is certified in sports injury and does myofascial release can help you improve your stability which will result in a more effective plank.

How can you improve core stability and strength?

A stronger core goes beyond planks or exercise.  Your core stability program must also include methods such as foam rolling, myofascial release, chiropractic care, and exercises to help you be loose enough to benefit from the following core plank exercises. Always foam roll before planking which will improve fascial function and improve your ability to plank effectively. Our office always recommends holding standard elbow planks for 30 seconds and then building up to a minute.  Once this is achieved, you add side planks that are not only diagnostic but also will add to your stability.  Begin adding the side plank in for 30 seconds on each side until you can plank for a minute for each plank, gradually increasing the time every 2-3 days until you can plank for 3 minutes each.  This will result in a much stronger and effective core that reduces pain and dysfunction.  Want to go further, check out these 8 plank variations to further challenge your core strength.

8 Core-Crushing Plank Variations That Will Fire Up Your Abs

These do-anywhere moves require zero equipment but yield serious results.

BicyclingSara Lindberg You can mix them into your workout, do them while watching TV, or even sneak in a few sets at work. We’re talking about planks—the do-anywhere, a core-strengthening exercise that requires no equipment but can yield some serious results. Problem is, lots of people think the classic old plank is boring. When done correctly, it will completely fire up your core, but let’s face it—it’s not the most exciting exercise to do. This can be a problem because cyclists need strong cores to ride faster, stronger, and more efficiently. “If your abdominal muscles and spinal erectors are lacking either the strength or endurance to maintain proper positioning while pedaling on a flatter surface, the slight but constant forward-leaning seated position can place stress on your lumbar spine,” says Greg Pignataro, C.S.C.S., a personal trainer with Grindset Fitness. Read more