As I get older the more I notice that my opinions change.
As I continue to learn about the human body I sometimes shake my head at what I have done in the past.
Presently on social media I see this “Plank” challenge going on, basically everyday you hold a plank for a certain amount of time. As the days progress, so does the time until you are holding a plank for about 23 hours!! I am shaking my head at this, I am shaking my head a lot.
If you don’t know what a plank is, it is this:
A “core stability” exercise that is meant to help get you that 6 pack you want as well as reducing your risk of injury.
YOUR CHANCE OF INJURY IS NOT REDUCED, IN FACT I WOULD PUT MONEY ON THE FACT THAT YOUR ARE INCREASING YOUR RISK OF INJURY!!”
We are designed to move, we have joints, muscles and a nervous system that want us to move! Don’t just take my word for it, even Hippocrates said “Motion is Life”. and he was a wise man!
Movement is everything!
In fact, we never actually stop moving. At this very moment your body is constantly adjusting itself to keep upright, hundreds of micro movements are occurring naturally, you can’t feel them but they are happening.
This is my problem with the plank. An exercise that basically goes against everything we are.
Stabiliser muscles are what they are. They stabilise joints to allow proper quality movement.
That does not mean that they keep a part of the body completely still. It means they create rigidity at one place in the body whilst allowing full movement at another. They are highly trained and coordinated muscles that have impeccable timing.
They fire up before you even move.
The plank is one rigid movement, it holds your torso still, you do not move, all you can do is breathe and to be frank most people do that wrong!!
Now, think about when you walk, is your torso completely still? NO!
As you step forward your torso rotates towards the front leg, your opposite arm swings forward whilst the other arm goes back…massive movement in the torso.
When is your torso still in movement?
Never, so why on earth are you doing the plank in your workout?
If you want a strong core that can stabilise your spine properly, move it.
Challenge your body to move in 3 dimensions, that is forwards and back (sagital plane), side to side (frontal plane) and rotation (transverse plane).
Stabiliser muscles are designed to switch on and off in a moment, when we start to hold theses muscles like in the plank. We start to interfere with the timing of their contractions which can make them less effective at stabilising the body , increasing your risk of injury.
Last August I had the privilege of attending a course all about movement. I learned how to assess the body and help it move to overcome injuries. I learned that to challenge the “core” properly was to allow it to move. The course was run by Anatomy in Motion.
This is the founder Gary ward doing dome dynamic core training which is a great way of challenging the core and its stabilisers properly.
I didnt see one rigid movement there at all, did you??
I had my mind completely blown away that one weekend last year.
All I ask of you after reading this blog post is think about your body practically. If you want to move better then, move more.
Take yourself out of your comfort zone.
Don’t do exercises that counteract the role of the body.
Work with the body and trust it. It really is more capable than you think.