Whether you’re a competitive athlete, weekend warrior or just trying to stay fit, back pain can be a major deterrent to consistently working out. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Stretching and exercising the muscles and joints of the spine and abdomen—the abdominals, obliques and back muscles, which make up the core—can help blast back pain and keep you on track with your workouts.
Having a strong core is critical to maintaining a healthy back, and planks are a great way to get started. In fact, planks strengthen and protect your back, while conditioning and supporting abdominal muscles, internal organs and posture as well as powering all your movements.
So, let’s get started. Perform a side plank, then a center plank, followed by the other side plank—holding each for up to one minute. Rest and then repeat the process, working up to three sets. Here’s how:
Side Plank: Lie down on your right or left side—either is fine, since you’ll switch sides to perform the other plank after performing the center plank. Support your upper body with your forearm resting on the ground, while your legs are extended out—with ankles and knees stacked on top of each other. Push up until you are balancing on your elbow and the side of your foot. Pull your belly toward your spine, keeping your hips in a straight line.
Center Plank: Lie down on the floor face down with your feet together and your elbows and forearms on the floor underneath you. Push up until you’re balancing on your toes and forearms. Pull your belly in towards your spine, with your back and hips in a straight line.
Other Side Plank: Now, switch sides and perform a side plank for the other side of the body.
Be sure to rest, and then repeat the process. Work up to three sets.
Additional Tip: For advanced “plankers,” try a plank twist. Get in the center plank pose and lift one leg, bending at the knee. Move your knee towards your chest area, while twisting your torso. Return to plank pose. Repeat with the other leg.
The bottom line is that planks help to make a strong core, so try them out. Your back will thank you!
In order to avoid risk of injury, please seek advice directly from your physician, especially if you have existing medical issues, before beginning any exercise or nutritional program. Also, be sure to stretch after exercise to avoid muscle and joint tightness.