In this blog, Dr. Meisenhelder of Back In Motion Chiropractic & Sports Rehab in Beaverton, Oregon, demonstrates a variety of front plank progressions - beginner to advanced.
Plank based core exercises are extremely popular with sports rehab specialists, and for good reason. The plank position is what we refer to as a "spine neutral" exercise, meaning that when in the position your spine is in the same alignment as it would be if you were standing upright (with correct posture). This is as opposed to a traditional abdominal crunch where the spine, in particular the lumbar spine, is heavily flexed. So why is training in a spine neutral position so important? It's all about disc compression.
It has been well demonstrated in several research studies that sit-ups and crunches impart large compression loads on the intervertebral discs, loads that are near the physical limits of the tissue. Over time, this can increase the risk for disc herniation, an outward bulging of the disc material. This risk can be much worse in people with a history of lower back injury (As someone with a lumbar disc injury from deadlifting, I can tell you that my tolerance for sit-ups and crunches is very low, and only a few reps trigger back pain.) So, if our goal is to lessen the risk of injury, perhaps this isn't our best option!
Enter the plank. Research has demonstrated that plank-based core exercises provide excellent activation of the abdominal muscles with limited compressive forces on the spine; a win-win. In fact, the U.S. military has taken notice of this and has changed their programming in favor of the plank. It's a no-brainer, and pretty much all experts in the field agree; ditch the sit-up and adopt the plank.
Back In Motion Chiropractic & Sports Rehab - Proudly serving the Portland and Beaverton community for over 25 years. - "Moving Toward Your Finish L