Adopting small changes over time can add up to better health in the long term. Focus on building your core strength by adding one simple exercise to your weekly exercise plan — the plank.
The plank position, which looks like the high part of a push-up, works your core muscles, which are the major muscles in the area that connects your upper and lower body. These include the abdominal muscles and those in the back, sides, hips, and buttocks. The core also encompasses the muscles in your pelvis, including those that help support your bladder, uterus, and other internal organs.
First, can you hold a plank? Try the plank with your arms extended or resting on your elbows. Be certain to keep your back straight and your head in a neutral position looking at the ground. If you can’t hold the position, modify the exercise by resting your weight on your knees instead of your feet (sometimes referred to as a modified push-up position). Whatever version you do, time yourself to see how long you can hold the position.
Then repeat the exercise a few times a week, or even daily. Try to gradually increase the number of planks you do or the amount of time you stay in a plank (or modified plank position) over time. Start with one plank a day and build from there and increase your plank hold time gradually.
“If you can hold it for three seconds, try it for four. If you can hold it for four, try to get to 10 seconds,” says Dr. Edward Phillips, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.
The ultimate goal is to be able to hold your plank for a full minute. “There’s a saying that when you can hold a plank for a minute, your back pain will be gone,” says Dr. Phillips.
Planks may ease back pain because as your core muscles strengthen, they provide more support for your spine. Having a stronger core can also help you move more easily and make your movements more stable.
Source: Harvard Health / Image by shurkin_son