When you think of your core strength, do you just think of your abs? Your core includes abs but, it also includes the side of your body (obliques), hip adductors, hip abductors, and mid-low back. These all support and protect the spine!
Are you thinking, okay, why should I care? There are so many reasons! Most movements start in the center of our body and work outward. This means our core needs to be strong so it can be activated at a moments notice! Our core also protects our vital organs and spine. Did you know that our core is where the majority of our major arteries and veins are located? Talk about precious cargo! One more important reason, core strength helps us have good posture. If we slump, our organs are unable to work at their best. A lot of activity happens in our gut and if it doesn’t have the proper room; activity is delayed and can lead to serious issues. I’m not just talking constipation here people! A strong core leads to a happy and healthy body.
This leads us to my monthly challenge for March – PLANKS! Do you love them? Hate them? Do them at all? Hopefully after learning how vital core strength is, you’ll be encouraged to try! Let’s get started with one of my go to exercises, the forearm plank! I recommend starting with the forearm plank because it is easier on the wrists and hands.
Begin by lining up your elbows under your shoulders, this will ensure the shoulders are not under too much pressure. Also, make sure your hips are not drooping, as that could lead to back pain. If you can’t quite hold a flat back push the hips up a bit more, this will protect the back and help your body gain strength until you can hold plank with a flat back.
This is a great place to start! If you’re not ready to start here, try a forearm plank on your knees instead of toes.
Are you ready to take it to the next level? Try a side plank! These will strengthen your chest and back. You are also opening the ribcage, which enables you to increase your lung capacity and oxygen to the body. Side plank is a balancing pose, so it is important to keep a calm breath to help maintain balance.
Full Side Plank- Is a bit trickier than side forearm plank, as you can see you are balancing on just your hand and side of the foot. Gravity works against us in this pose which helps us work on our strength and balance. Here are a few of the many benefits of full side plank::
- Strengthens the shoulder girdle
- Strengthens the wrists and elbow joint
- Increase abdominal strength
- Firm and tone the body
- Increase balance
Lastly, if you really want a fun challenge, add in some leg modifications. This is so great to practice balance and further strengthen your core.
Now, the most important thing to remember is to keep good form! We want to keep your spine protected and safe. With all of these planks, make sure you pull your belly button in to spine and try to calm your breath. Hold for 15 seconds if you are just beginning and 30-60 seconds if you’ve been at this for a while! Try 3 sets every other day and within a couple of weeks you will be able to see not only a difference in how long you can hold plank but you will also begin to feel stronger through your core!
Alright friends, I can’t wait to hear how this monthly challenge goes for you all. Keep me posted and let me know if you have any questions. Happy Planking!
You’ve got this,