We work with a number of runners, cyclists and swimmers. A number of them will pick up an injury at some stage or another. One of the most common causes for injuries is a weak core. The words, ‘Core muscles’ speak of muscles that are closer to your centre than other muscles. Think ‘apple core’ in this regard. These muscles play a vital role in keeping you injury free. With this in mind I want to look at the subject of planking.
As you can see from the picture, a plank is a static training method. Exercise specialists would describe this as an isometric form of training. In it, your muscles are contracted so as to keep your body still. Benefits:
- Your core is your link between your lower body and your upper body. Swimmers, for example, will often pick up lower back injuries from core weakness. The link between your powerful upper body muscles and your legs needs to be strong. Planking will help you strengthen the link between these two systems.
- Planking stretches certain muscle groups. Your shoulder girdle will expand and thus certain muscles within it will stretch. Your toes also get a stretch as they extend you support your weight.
- Your posture will improve. Activation of your transverse abdominis and iliopsoas will stabilize your spine and hips. Planking will also help prevent or even correct lordosis and posterior pelvic tilt. Lordosis means that your lower back is overly arched and posterior pelvic tilt means that your back is too flat. Many of us have seated jobs where we tend to slump forward as the day continues. Planking counteracts this and helps strengthen muscles that tend to go into slump mode.
The muscles that are strengthened by planking include;
2. Erector spinae
3. Pectoral and serratus muscles. Those are muscles in your chest area.
5. Side planks will help strengthen your gluteus medius muscles. Engaging the gluteus medius properly will also help prevent IT Band issues and anterior knee pain. This can also reduce pronation rates, and your chance of picking up shin splints.
Planking is a versatile exercise. You can do it any time and any place. The benefits of a strong core will decrease your chances of getting injured.