By June Scharff
In recent months I have seen the Plank exercise grow in popularity, and is often recommended on television shows such as Dr. Oz. I agree the Plank is a wonderful exercise; when done correctly it utilizes the whole body. So often I see the Plank shown as “okay, get in the position and hold it for 5 seconds”. I think that is where the drudgery comes from. If you do not use the proper technique, the arms end up trying to do all of the work which can put undue pressure on the wrist, elbow and shoulder joints. There can also be pressure and aggravation on the lower back.
Plank is considered an intermediate/advanced exercise. When working on the following aspects, it is best to practice them while laying face down on the mat before going up into the plank position.
• Legs are about shoulder width apart. Engage the legs as if bringing them together, but do not bring them together. While engaging the legs notice the energy between the legs going from between the feet all the way up through the center of the body. As this is done, be aware of the Kegel and sphincter squeeze, imagining the squeeze is going higher and higher up through the center of the body toward the head.
• Pull the abdominals up to the spine. Be aware of keeping the ribcage closed in front.
• When placing the hands or elbows on the mat, make sure the shoulders line up right over the hands.
• While supporting the body’s weight with the arms, roll the shoulders back and down, keeping the Collar Bone open. At that time, make sure the ribcage doesn’t open up.
• As the shoulders are rolling back, engage the Latissimus Dorsi by imagining you are reaching the muscles underneath the armpits down towards the feet.
So that is it! It takes a great deal of practice to incorporate all of these steps, all at the same time. Before you know it, you will go from Ugh to Awesome!