Does Your Back Hurt?
by Ann-Marie Giglio
This is one of the few specific exercises I’ll recommend this year: Plank. If you only have time to do one exercise, do this. Plank is great for your back!
Lie on your stomach on a hard surface. Slide your hands under your shoulders, fingers spread. Make sure that your wrists are in line with your shoulder joints. Then push your torso off the floor, abs engaged, legs extended (but not knee-locked) until your entire body is off the floor except for your toes. You’ll look like you are about to do a push-up. If your wrists or shoulders aren’t ready for this, do it leaning against a wall or do it on your knees.
Now stay there. You should have a straight line connecting your shoulders, hips, and knees or ankles.
Here’s the stuff that can go wrong:
- Be certain your lower back isn’t sinking, or your butt isn’t flying up toward the ceiling, and your shoulder blades aren’t separated, creating a hump at the top (in your thoracic spine).
- If your lower back is sinking, pull your navel into your spine and lift your pelvis toward the ceiling until you create that straight line.
- If you’re butt is flying upwards, lower your pelvis just until the line is straight. Keep your pelvis stable and “neutral”–your lower back should feel great.
- If your shoulder blades have rolled apart (and most people’s do from sitting all day in a hunched over position), pull them together in the back by rolling them to the rear and then slide the tops of your shoulders down away from your ears, as if you are putting your blades into your back pockets.
- No shrugging. You should feel your spine sink between them. Keep your head in line with your spine.
- If it droops, you’ll feel how heavy it is because your neck and upper back will complain.
- If you lift your chin up too far, you’ll feel it crunch your lower spine. Look at the floor about 2 feet in front of you. Your forehead should be parallel to the floor (or wall).
Practice staying in this position for as long as possible. Can you stay for 30 seconds? Two minutes?
It’s a great isometric exercise, no joint movement involved. You will increase upper body strength and core stability simply and effectively. It’s got great ROI! Exactly what our fitness needs are these days.
Begin where you are! Tomorrow, try to stay another few seconds. And the next day. Until you slowly, gradually work your way up to 2 minutes.
(Call me if you’d like to make it more challenging.)
Your back will thank you.