How to plank correctly to reduce back pain and strengthen the deep core muscles.

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Do you perform planks regularly?   If you do, is your plank form correct? There are a number of myths and facts about planking which include the time needed to benefit from these exercises.   One of the more common myths is about the amount of time you need to plank and how many different planks you need to perform. Signs of a weak deep core when planking includes difficulty doing either side of standard planks for less than a minute.   When performing a plank, you will eventually begin to shake which means your body is benefiting from the exercise but it also beginning to fatigue out. If you look at how people walk, they take one foot and put it in front of the other which is a highly unstable activity according to Gary Ward, author of What the Foot?  He mentions that after evaluating people who are able to plank for long periods of time, he realized that too much planking was likely why they were in pain when he first met them. See the source imageIn my years of experience, I have found most patients cannot hold a plank for one minute or more.   We usually recommend working up to three minutes as being the ideal. Many experts such as McGill agree that planks are important for a stable functional core that helps with the athleticism required to move your legs efficiently while walking and running. The reason to work the deep core which includes the ◾Transversus Abdominis (TA) ◾Multifidus (MF) ◾Pelvic Floor (PF) Performing a basic side and elbow plank is enough for most of us.  There are also variations on the theme with hand supported planks and planks with the legs abducted.  For a full list of planks, you can try, check out this link. Runners World magazine recently reported on a Canadian woman who competitively held a plank for four hours. Considering that feat, it has been my experience that this is too much of a good thing and you will get much tighter and less functional after planking for too long. If you are a runner, adding planking when added to your training regimen can improve your core tone, which will improve your gait, especially on long runs.   When a runner begins to fatigue after running for a while, their legs will tighten and their running form will become compromised.    Planking will help you with your running form. For regular folks who are occasionally athletic and who do gardening, planking can reduce the risk of a lower back injury since a more stable core has a reduced risk of becoming injured. Click on this link for our planks section. I recommend starting with a 30-second elbow plank as seen above. Work up to one minute. Then add a side plank either like the one that is shown or as a side elbow plank as seen on our sheet for 30 seconds and then work towards a minute. Then as you are able to perform both planks for a minute, every other day, add about 10 seconds to each plank until you have the endurance to hold the form for three minutes.