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Planking the Right Way

A lot of patients, who present to my office, with a complaint of low back pain ask what is causing it. Most often this can be attributed to having biomechanical dysfunction along with muscle imbalances, which involve core weakness.  Low Back Pain

They always say, “I do a bunch of sit-ups, but it does not seem to help.”  Sit-ups are starting to become an exercise of the past.  In all reality, sit-ups can actually cause more harm than good, even the military is starting to phase out sit-ups because of the stress and strain it places on the low back.

The core exercise I recommend to all my patients is the plank.  It is a great exercise that encompasses the entire core, front and back, when performed correctly.  There are many variations of the plank, but I will explain how to perform the variation I believe is most effective.  Once you can master this one, you can then advance to more difficult variations.

How to Perform a Plank Correctly

1. Start off on your hands and knees.  Then place your elbows on the ground directly under your shoulders and extend your legs straight, so your elbows and toes are the only parts of your body touching the ground.

2. Tuck your pelvis so it is neutral.  This will aid in bracing your core.  Once this occurs, you will want to make sure your low back is in a neutral position. Pull your shoulders back and down, then align your neck to a neutral position.

3. Now you want to make sure there is a straight line through your ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles.  If this is performed correctly, you should be activating your entire core. You want to engage it to where it feels like you are blowing up a balloon around your spine.

You should be able to hold a plank in this position for about 90 secs, once you can do this you can advance to more difficult variations of the plank.

I will be making a video, so you can see how to correctly perform this exercise, that you can refer to for guidance.

If you or anyone you know has any questions about how to perform a plank or would like to know if you are performing it correctly, please contact us online or call the office at 573-635-9655.  I would also like to invite you to the office for an evaluation if you are having any issues.


Dr. Nick Knaup

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