Did you know that doing the plank engages almost every muscle in your body, especially your abs? Here's how to do the plank pose and many benefits of this underrated pose.
HOW TO DO THE PLANK
There are a few ways to get into plank pose. Some people start by getting into the start of a push-up, where their hands are pressed to the ground at a 90 degree angle below the shoulders. The shoulders should be right above the wrists. The body should be in one line from the top of your head to your heels. Do not dip or raise your hips. You need to push back through your heels and forward through a neutral neck out through the top of the head. At the same time, press firmly down through your whole hand, and do not let your chest sink.
Take a moment and make sure that your hands are pressed firmly to the ground and that fingers are spread and palms flat. You should feel firm, but do not overextend your elbows. Then gently slide your shoulder blades down your back so your shoulders are away from your ears and your neck is elongated. I like to think of a turtle sticking his head out of his shell. Your head should be a natural extension of the spine. If you have slight pressure in the lower back, pelvic tilt until the feeling dissipates. Legs should be strong, straight and engaged. Your heels should point straight up to the sky, and your feet should be square.
Another way to get into plank pose is to start with downward dog and then move into forward-facing dog. Then, stop midway and take a moment to make sure that your body is aligned, strong, straight, and engaged. A mirror or a friend can be very helpful.
BENEFITS OF THE PLANK
It's recommended that you do the plank pose at least 3 times a week. If done so properly and consistently, plank pose improves posture. It also strengthens the abs, back, arms, wrists, hands, and neck. It aligns our bodies and when done on a balance board, increases balance and stability.
Some people prefer to do the plank on their forearms. Instead of having your shoulders at a 90 degree angle above your wrists, your shoulders should be at a 90 degree angle of your elbows, with your arms flat on the ground and straight out in front of you.
Another variation is to start on your knees instead of raising your lower legs onto your toes.
When you feel confident and comfortable doing the plank, you can try some other variations and challenges. For example, try lifting one straight leg at a time.
Another variation is to turn each wrist 180 degrees so that the your fingers are pointing at your toes. Do this carefully and make sure that you do not hyperextend your elbows.
Plank poses can be done anywhere and everywhere. FEEL THE HEAT!