Planks could be considered the bread and butter of any abdominal workout. They focus on building your inner core muscles which helps tighten the tummy, fix bad posture and can even alleviate back pain. Common complaints when attempting to do planks is that it hurts the shoulders, back and wrists. If you are experiencing joint pain, you’re doing something incorrectly.
The Back Arc
The most common reason for back pain during a plank is known as the back arc. Your back should be flat during a plank. If you held a stick on your back it should touch your back down the length of the whole spine. To ensure this, tuck the butt and engage your lower abs. This is called a pelvic tilt. This will elongate the spine and help to engage the right muscles and alleviate back pain.
Collapsing the Upper Back
The next common mistake occurs in the upper back around the shoulders. Your scapula, or shoulder blades, should not pinch together. Focus on pushing hard through the floor and drawing your chest upward to fill the space in-between your shoulder blades.
Butt to The Sky
This plank almost starts to look like a downward dog. The hands are in front of the shoulders and the butt is sticking up in the air. Remember the stick trick. Everything should be straight. If you’re butt is in the air, try to get it down to the same level as the shoulders and ankles.
Wrist and Elbow Alignment
Arms are another important element to the plank. Keep the arms at body width, don’t go too wide. Elbows should be below the shoulders. In the push up position, try to line the finger tips up with the shoulders so the base of your palm is in line with the middle of your chest. When doing a forearm plank, tuck the elbows under your body. Try to keep the hands below eye level and keep the elbows squeezing in to your center. No chicken wings!
Remember these key points next time you practice your planks so that you can get the most out of this key exercise. If you can, take a quick video or a snap at the gym to check your form.