Plank Exercise – The Most Effective Core Exercise
The plank exercise is a type of stability exercise. A stability exercise is a form of strengthening exercise that is used to reinforce the muscle strength of the muscles that support your entire body. Specifically, the plank exercise aims in strengthening the core muscles of your body. The core muscles are those wide bands of muscles that primarily function to contain the vital organs of your body. These vital organs include your (1) stomach; (2) small intestine; (3) large intestine; (4) liver; (5) spleen; and (6) kidney.
As you may have noticed, most of the vital organs that the core muscles support in plank exercise are located along the lower back and lower abdominal areas. This is because the insertion of most of the core muscles are situated along these areas. The insertion of the muscle is the moving end of the muscle. Some of the examples of core muscles with insertion along these areas are your rectus abdominis and the transversus abdominis.
Effects or benefits of Plank Exercise
There are various effects that the plank exercise can bring. Because this type of stabilization exercise is one of the easier forms of strengthening exercises, you can expect this exercise to be relatively easier than the rest of the strengthening exercises. All your core muscles will do is to contract at their optimal state until you can feel the tension on the abdominal area. When this happens, you can expect minimal discomfort during or after you have performed the exercises. Another effect that the plank exercise can bring you is enhanced reinforcement of the different surrounding organs, muscles, bones, and other structures.
A recent study has shown that the plank exercise can greatly aid in decreasing the episodes of mechanical low back pain. A randomized controlled trial of people with mechanical low back pain was performed by various health professionals. Majority of these people with mechanical low back pain are in the middle adulthood age bracket. The entire population was divided into two groups — the controlled group and the experimental group. The people who belong to the control group were asked to undergo conventional treatment while the people under the experimental group were asked to perform the basic form of plank exercise. As expected, the people in the experimental group got more significant results in terms of the reduction of pain episode and intensity.
Before you will be allowed to engage in various positions in the plank exercise, you have to master its foundation. This is termed as the drawing in maneuver. In this exercise, you will be asked to lie down in a hook lying position. You have to initially assume this position for two reasons: (1) to improve your stability so that the exercise may be more focused towards your core muscles; (2) to optimize the muscle length so that your core muscles will have an easier time in contracting. Basically, you should make your belly button your external feedback during the plank exercise. You will know that you have done the correct movement if your belly button is moving caudally and posteriorly. However, the muscle contraction should be gradual.
You should keep in mind that every time you are assuming the positions in plank exercise, you must perform the drawing in maneuver as well. Therefore, you have to master this maneuver in hook lying first before you incorporate arm and leg movements in this exercise. It is also important that you keep your core muscle groups in their contracted state. This will ensure that your posture is well aligned and your low back area is adequately supported. You may further progress this plank exercise by assuming side planking or using a vestibular ball to make the task more difficult.