The Plank Pose is one of the most fundamental postures in all forms of physical fitness and yoga.
Many of us have a love & hate relationship with plank pose. This is a beginner friendly challenge pose that will make you core strong and build the endurance needed for all arm balancing postures. We love this pose for all of the incredible benefits and it's accessibility. And it makes us work to do it well so we love to hate it just a little bit too.
How to do Plank Pose
1. Plant hands directly under shoulders, shoulder distance apart. Step the feet back to create the long line from the heels through the head.(the top position of a push-up).
2. Ground toes into the floor and squeeze glutes to stabilize your body. Your quads should be working, too to keep the legs straight. (You may modify the amount of weight bearing and decrease the core load by placing the knees on the ground while maintaining the plank line from knees through the crown of the head. Quads will not be working in the modified position. )
3. Neutralize your neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot beyond your hands. Your head should be in line with your back.
4. Push strongly through the hands (or forearms if modifying for the wrists) to keep the back of the shoulders broad. (Protraction of the shoulder blades).
5. Hold the position for 20 seconds to begin. As you get more comfortable with the move, hold your plank for as long as possible without compromising your form or breath. (The challenge photo will help you increase your time each day.)
Common Pitfalls in Plank
Note: Plank pose is not for students with shoulder injuries. Always check with a qualified medical professional for information and protocols for your specific injuries.
1. Collapsing your lower back
Instead of compromising your lower back by dipping your butt, engage your core by pulling your navel in toward your spine. (Uddiyana Bandha) This will help keep your torso elongated. Keep your abdominal muscles super engaged as the hips move slightly lower than the shoulders, but not dipping too far towards the floor.
2. Collapsing in the head
The head is part of the full extension of the spine. Focus your gaze (Drishti) approximately a foot in front of you to help keep the head and neck neutral.
3. Collapsing in the shoulders
If we do not push the floor away the shoulder blades will sink together (retraction of the shoulder blades) Instead, push the floor away to broaden the shoulder blades (protraction of the shoulder blades). This will support the health and strength of the shoulders. The protraction will engage the serratus anterior muscle that runs under the shoulder blade and attaches on the outer ribs preparing your strength for a whole world of arm balances.
When we are in postures that challenge our muscle endurance and strength it is common for people to hold their breath. Instead, keep the core engaged and maintain a steady and even breath.
5. Worrying about the time.
The challenge is meant to give you inspiration, but do not become obsessed with the timer. Set it and then shift your focus on what is happening in your form. Keep scanning the body and recommitting to your alignment and breath awareness. If you feel that you really need to come down, try to stay one breath longer than you think you can and then exit. Consistency will bring long term results even if you release the pose a bit sooner on any given day.
About Chris Loebsack
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