Among the simple home workout exercises, plank exercises are great when it comes to maintaining a good-looking torso. Furthermore, planks workout is encouraged by trainers and professionals as a great home workout exercise for anyone. It can be performed in different ways, but the main one includes lying in a press-up position with your weight resting on your elbow, forearm, and toes.
You can also get it done by adjusting the lying position such that the front of your waist forms a bend as your body weight rests on your hands and feet. The plank exercises are also effective in engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
WHY YOU SHOULD DO PLANKS
1. BACK STRENGTHENING THROUGH PLANKS
The plank exercises are quite simple to do and are mostly used to strengthen the core muscles. However, unlike a variety of other core strengthening exercises, the plank workout will ensure that your back remains in good shape. In fact, this exercise builds your upper back.
The other good thing about this exercise is that it doesn’t cause any back strain or unnecessary extension of the spine. Your back remains in its natural position as you do the exercise.
2. CORE STRENGTH
You body is divided into two main parts: the upper (it includes the head and torso section) and lower body. Planks help strengthen core part of the body. This part mainly consists of bones, muscles, and joints that connect both the upper and lowers parts of the body. Considering the fact that we have to engage the core on a daily basis: when turning, reaching out for something, bending, and lifting, it’s health is very critical for our body.
The core muscles of the body that get engaged during a planks workout include the rectus abdominus, the transverse abdominus, the external oblique muscles, and the glutes. (2) A regular workout routine that involves planks will help ease your daily tasks and improve your overall strength.
3. TUMMY FLATTENING
Getting a flat tummy needs a lot of dedication. There are those that will do multiple crunches and sit-ups daily. There are others that will use the ab wheel. All these methods help in flattening the tummy, but they do come with risks of back injury.
Studies show that plank exercise offer a better solution when it comes to working towards that flat and toned stomach. According to an editorial posted in Navy Times, sit-ups are old and outdated because they have been used for years.
In addition to this, crunches can be difficult to perform appropriately. Those that do them wrongly may later develop increased lower back pains due to poor positioning. Furthermore, research shows that a planks workout is likely to activate your six-pack muscles faster than crunches.
4. ENHANCED FLEXIBILITY
The main reason as to why professional trainers encourage people to do functional exercises is because they help the body to remain limber and agile for longer. This is an excellent way to keep the body free from aches, pains, and body injuries that can develop if you are unfit.
The plank exercise is a functional workout. This exercise provides the muscles, tendons, and ligaments with elasticity that make you look a few years younger that you actually are.
When the plank exercise is performed daily together with other simple exercises, you will be able to fully stretch out and expand the muscles located around the limbs, shoulders, shoulder blades, collarbone, and hamstrings. This workout can help you get rid of the strain that comes with extended hours of sitting at an office desk.
5. AN INCREASE IN METABOLISM
Unlike cardiovascular exercises, plank exercises generally enhance core strength, which help build-up a higher metabolic rate even after working out. While cardio exercises will generally help you burn more fat and calories as compared to planks, they don’t affect your metabolic rate that much.
In fact, the minute you stop doing cardiovascular exercises, the metabolic rate returns back to normal. On the other hand, your body continues to burn more calories after doing a plank exercise. This alone shows that planks are an efficient way of burning fat and for increasing metabolism.
6. BETTER BALANCE AND POSTURE
Just like every other exercise, the plank exercise will take you a while to get used to them because they are not that easy. However, after practicing for a specific period, you’ll notice that your core and overall body strength will significantly increase.
The positioning required when doing a plank requires a neutral spine that helps boost body balance and posture, which will in turn help you stand or sit straighter as compared to what you were used to before.
If your office job requires you to sit for long hours, you can easily suffer from postural deficiencies such as posterior pelvic tilt and lordosis. (3) Most of these conditions are caused by abdomen or hip flexor weaknesses that happen due to poor posture. Doing regular planks will help keep both the back and stomach muscles strong enough, giving you the right posture as you perform your daily tasks.
7. IMPROVED BONE AND JOINT HEALTH
An important organ that people tend to forget when keeping fit is bone and joint health. Even though the above organs can be improved through healthy nutrition, it is always good to make sure that you strengthen them during your workouts. You can do this by performing the plank exercise.
This exercise is a good weight-bearing workout because it puts pressure on the bones and causes them to rebuild themselves. Your bone tissues need constant stimulation to remain healthy. You have to get rid of the old bones and allow the body to build new ones so that you can have better muscle movement.
In most cases, the rate at which new bones get replaced by old ones is affected by age. After you reach 30 years, you lose bone tissue faster than you regain new ones. This is why older people tend to be a bit slow. You can do the plank exercise to help you regulate this rate and make sure that you mature well.
8. BETTER MOODS
The good thing about workouts is that they can help uplift your spirits. The plank exercise is not any different because it can help you increase your energy levels. It’s important to take note that prolonged sitting can bring about serious neck, muscle and back pains especially if no exercise and stretching are involved.
The pains negatively affect your attitude and moods. You get tired pretty quickly and can’t wait to leave the office. You wonder whether you are doing something meaningful with your life. You just question everything because you are not feeling okay.
The plank exercise is vital since it helps to keep the brain calm. The exercise works your core section and minimizes the occurrence of pain. In the end, it helps keep stress levels low, leaving you in a better mood.
9. IT MAKES IT EASIER FOR YOU TO COMPLETE DAILY TASKS
The plank is a functional exercise, meaning that it’s meant to help you with the performance of daily activities. The tasks could be walking, sitting, turning, working or even studying. The plank pose lets you bear your body weight, which results in better core strength and overall body functionality.
Unlike other workout routines that tend to focus on specific muscle groups, the plank gives you an all-rounded experience. It works on multiple muscle groups at the same time. This allows you to build muscle in all the important areas. That way, it becomes easier to do most tasks that involve multiple muscle groups.
10. YOU’LL LOVE IT
The good thing about being consistent in dieting and exercise is that the result will encourage you to push yourself further. When you commit to doing the plank at least 4 times a week, you create a formidable spine and strengthen your entire core. The exercise helps to shape your abs and oblique, straighten your back muscles, strengthen your chest, forearm, and glutes.
That means that the exercise helps you to maintain the perfect body shape. You’ll love doing it because it helps to boost your self-esteem. In order, to do the exercise properly, lie in the press up position. Then, bend your elbows at a 90 degree angle while placing your entire weight on the forearms.
You back should be straight throughout. Avoid dropping your head as this could spoil the exercise. Workout your core by pulling you tummy towards the spine and maintain the position for about 10 to 30 seconds. It may be hard at first, but constant practice will make you good at it.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON PLANKS
The plank exercise is an efficient way of toughening the body and firming up the core muscles. It’s vital that you practice the pose during your regular gym or home workouts so as to get the best out of your exercise session.
Lower back pain is a common issue, affecting about 60-80% of Americans. Its intensity can range from a slight stiffness or soreness to a painful sting or a “shocking” feeling, as it can be caused by various factors.
The low back supports the weight of the upper body and provides mobility for everyday motions like bending and twisting. Muscles in this area are responsible for flexing and rotating the hips while walking, and supporting the spinal column, while the nerves in the low back power the muscles in the pelvis, legs, and feet.
In most cases, acute low back pain is caused by injuries to the muscles, ligaments, joints, or discs. The pain might start suddenly, or slowly, and gradually aggravate over time.
Depending on the underlying cause of the pain, the symptoms can differ:
These exercises will provide a greater range of motion, stabilize the core, and improve body posture, preventing injuries.
The following six exercises will help you alleviate lower back pain:
1. Camel Pose
Kneel down, with the hands behind you on the bottom of the feet. Push the hips up and forward, to stretch the abdominal muscles, and boost core stability.
2. Wide Forward Fold
Sit on the floor, with the knees bent and the spine upright. Straighten the legs and round the back while reaching for your feet with both hands. This will open up the hips, boost mobility and prevent straining or spraining the back.
3. Frog Pose
Start on all fours, widen the knees to feel a tension in your groin muscles, and push against the floor with the hips to open them up more.
4. Wide Side Lunge Pose
Start with the feet facing forward in a wide stance, and the legs straight. Use the hands to “walk” to your right foot and bend the right knee while rotating the left foot to make the toes pointing towards the ceiling. The right foot should remain on the floor. Repeat on the opposite side.
5. Butterfly Stretch
While sitting on the floor, the soles of the feet touching each other and the back straight, press down on the knees with the hands to induce the stretch.
6. Forearm Extensor Stretch
Extend one arm out with the elbow straight. Use the other hand to grasp it at the side of the thumb, bend the wrist downward, and hold for 20-30 seconds.
For best effects, perform these exercises consecutively, spending about a minute on each stretch. If done regularly, your lower back pain will soon be drastically reduced!
Without doubt, motherhood is one of the most rewarding periods in life; however, being a mother brings a lot of unwanted bodily changes.
Of course, the ability of a woman’s body to grow a life and change is an amazing thing; however, many mommies struggle with protruding belly even months after giving birth.
Luckily for you, doing the right exercises can help speed up the healing and restore your belly to “normal”. Continue reading our article to check out the seven best exercises for a flat belly and strong core.
Strengthening the Diastasis Recti with these 10 Exercises
Diastasis recti is a sign of surplus pressure in the abdomen and pelvis. Namely, during pregnancy, the stretching of the abdominal muscles can cause the muscles which meet in the centre of the abdomen to divide.
Consequently, a bulge in the middle section is created. In some women, the muscles may be more stretched than in others and this causes the belly protrusion to be even bigger.
Here are the best exercises to help heal the post-baby pooch caused by diastasis recti:
Lie down on your back and bring the legs up to 90 degrees with the knees bent. Breathe out and pull in the belly button towards the spine. Breathe out and gradually drop the right heel onto the floor. Breathe in and then breathe out and return the leg in the primary pose. Switch between legs- each leg needs to touch the floor 10 times.
Lie on your back with the face toward the ceiling. Bend the knees, hip-width apart while the feet are flat on the floor. Keep the arms by the sides and activate the abs and press down through your heels and lift up the hips. Squeeze in the glutes while up. Stay for a couple of seconds in the pose before gradually going down. Do 10 reps.
To get into the side plank pose, put one forearm with the elbow directly underneath the shoulder. Bend the knee which is on the bottom so that the foot behind helps with support. Now, activate the core and pull in the stomach towards the spine. Straighten up the body towards the ceiling. Breathe deeply and stay in the pose for 10 breaths. Do the same on the other side.
Body weight squats
While in a standing position with the feet shoulder-width apart, breathe in and lower the body. Stay soft in the pelvic floor. Go down as much as you can and then breathe out before you go up gradually. Do 2 sets of 20 reps.
While lying down on your back, lift the legs to a tabletop pose and a 90-degree bend in the knees. Tap the toes onto the floor and alternate between the legs. The lower back needs to be touching the floor all the time. Follow your breath and go slowly. Do 10 taps with each foot.
While standing with the feet hip-width apart in front of a wall, bend the knees and hips and squat down. The back needs to be flat against the wall. Stay in the pose and do one core compression (pulling the stomach towards the spine. Relax and repeat for 2 to 3 minutes.
While on all fours, tighten the abs and keep the neck and spine in neutral pose- looking into the floor. Extend the left leg behind you and reach the right arm forward. Keep the balance in the hips. Do not arch the lower back. Stay for 10 seconds in the pose before gradually going into the primary pose. Repeat the same with the other leg and arm. Do 10 reps on each side.
The pain and tension in the shoulders and neck are highly uncomfortable. They do not necessarily stem from the same region as the pain, as neck pain might be caused by a shoulder impingement, and pain in the shoulder can be a result of some tension in the neck.
However, the entire back side of the body is interconnected via the superficial back line, which stretches from the forehead, down the spine and the back of the legs, to the bottom of your feet. This means that a dysfunction anywhere in this line can cause pain in the certain area.
The pain and discomfort in the shoulders and neck are usually a result of the following causes:
Stress- It causes mental and physical tension in the body
Tech-Neck (Forward Head Posture)- We spend multiple hours staring at the cell phones, PC, or television screen, and this position stretches the neck extensors and weakens the neck flexors
Reaching Forward (Rounded Shoulder Posture)- The chronic use of phones and computers leads to rounded shoulder posture
The following exercises will help you enhance the mobility and stability of the neck and shoulders, strengthen the muscles of the back, and reduce the stress:
Thoracic Extension | 3-5 reps
Sitting on the floor, with the mid back resting on a foam roller or a rolled-up bath towel, and the head supported in the hands, breathe out and stretch the spine back over the roller. Inhale to hold, exhale, and return to the initial position.
Open Book | 5 reps per side
While lying with the knees bent in front, and the hands over the ears and the elbows pointing forward, breathe in and try to reach the top elbow to the ceiling. Breathe out and open the top elbow to the back side to touch the ground. Hold for a few seconds, relax the shoulders, breathe in, breathe out, and return to the initial position.
Scapula Slide | 10-15 reps
Start on all fours, with the wrists under the shoulders and knees under hips, press firmly into the palms and fingertips, while the elbows are straight. Breathe in, slide the shoulder blades (scapula) together, breathe out, press into the hands, and go back to the starting position.
Head Tilt | 2 min
Sit down or kneel, and keep the head stacked directly above the shoulders and the arms by the sides. Breathe in, breathe out, and lower the left ear towards the left shoulder. Hold, and repeat on the other side. Next, breathe out and turn the head to look over the right shoulder, breathe in again, and return to center. Exhale, and look over the left shoulder.
Shoulder Shrug | 10 reps
Start in the same position, inhale, and elevate the shoulders up towards the ears. Breathe out, and return them down, feeling the blades settle on the back.
Neck Retractions | 6-8 reps
Lying on the back, with the knees bent, and the arms down by the side, breathe in, and jut the chin forward to the ceiling, while the back of the head remains on the floor. Then, breathe out, and retract the chin in towards the throat.
Neck Roll | 3 circles per side
Sit down or kneel, inhale, exhale and gently lower the left ear towards the left shoulder. Bring the chin towards the chest, breathe in, and bring the right ear towards the right shoulder. Reverse the circle.
Kneeling Arm Circle | 3-5 reps per arm
From the same initial position, face the palms in and the thumb forward. Breathe in, reach the left arm straight up to the ceiling, and hold. Exhale, rotate the palm away from your body and circle the arm until it is back down by the hip, palm facing out and baby finger forward. Inhale and reverse the circle, pause, and return to the initial position.
Wing Span | 2 min
Start seated on a chair, with the head stacked directly above the shoulders and the arms stretched directly out to the side, in line with the shoulders. Inhale, and reach the arm up overhead, palm forward. The left arm should be down by your hip, bend the elbows and reach the fingers towards each other at the center of the back. Hold, and return to the starting position.
Furthermore, massage has been proven to be an effective remedy in the case of neck and shoulder pain.
According to Dr.Mercola:
“Stronger massage stimulates blood circulation to improve the supply of oxygen and nutrients to body tissues and helps your lymphatic system to flush away waste products. It eases tense and knotted muscles and stiff joints, improving mobility, and flexibility.
Massage is said to increase the activity of the vagus nerve, one of 10 cranial nerves, that affects the secretion of food-absorption hormones, heart rate, and respiration. It has proven to be an effective therapy for a variety of health conditions — particularly stress-related tension. As reported by iVillage:
“[A] … study from Thailand suggests that traditional Thai massage can decrease pain intensity, muscle tension, and anxiety among people with shoulder pain. Meanwhile, research from the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami in Florida found that when adults with hand pain had four weeks of massage therapy, they reported a lot less pain, anxiety, and depression.
Another study at the Touch Research Institute found that when pregnant women who were depressed received massages from their partners twice a week, they had much less leg and back pain and fewer symptoms of depression during the second half of their pregnancies.”
Additionally, here are several effective methods that have been confirmed to be able to soothe the pain and avoid prescription drugs:
Infrared laser therapy
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
Sedentary lifestyles keep ruining our overall health in numerous ways, and the best way to counteract these effects is to start exercising regularly and be more physically active.
Physical inactivity has been shown to contribute to the development of various health conditions, such as:
Yet, most of us decide to spend them in front of the TV, snacking, or scrolling down on Facebook, instead of doing something to get in shape. If you are too busy to hit the gym, you have still no excuse for not working out, as there are some amazing workout programs that can be done anytime, at home!
A popular fitness trainer, Denise Austin, recommends a routine that involves 5 simple chair exercises suitable for busy women and workaholics, that will help you get the body of your dreams: