The plank is my new best friend. It's wonderful for pain relief, posture, awesome abs and bladder control. What over 40 woman wouldn't want all those things?
I started planking about 2 years ago when I noticed that every morning when I got up, I had back pain. Not cool for a chiropractor.
I could crunch with the best of them, but I realized that although I THOUGHT my core was pretty strong, it just wasn't. Hence the sore back.
I started noticing the number of YouTube videos, blog posts, magazine articles and physiology papers pointing to the superiority of the plank over the crunch. So I did a little case study of my own: for 365 days, I never did a crunch. I only did planks, and not every day mind you.
Within about 2 weeks, I noticed my back pain was almost gone. That meant I wasn't laying in bed at 5am wanting to get up simply to relieve the ache in my spine.
I found that even after hours on the computer, my upper back and neck were less stiff and my shoulders weren't rolling in as much. My posture was better, which meant I also stood taller. And for someone who's only 5'1" on a good day, every millimetre helps. And if I fast forward another 30 years, I imagine I will be less likely to have that stooped "old lady" look to me.
I can skip rope and jump with the kids on the trampoline without peeing myself now. Nuff said about that.
AND, my upper body is WAY stronger than it was because planking also works the upper body.
Here's why the plank is far superior to the crunch:
Planking uses more body muscles than crunches, so you get a better all around strength workout.
Planking allows for tons of modifications, so it can be done by people of all strengths and abilities (or disabilities).
Planking mimics our every day activities - it is FUNCTIONAL in nature. I believe most exercise should be functional so it helps us with our activities of every day life. Planking copies our natural, healthy posture and strengthens our extensor muscles. Crunches don't model any normal activity of daily life...unless you're routinely getting punched in the stomach.
Planking encourages "parasympathetic" activation, which is the part of your nervous system that calms us and allows for normal organ function. Crunches activate our "sympathetic" nervous system, which is typically related to our stress response and fight or flight hormones.
- Planking can help with weight loss. When done correctly, planking focuses on all core muscles, as well as just about every major muscle group in the body. It uses your rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, the obliques as well as glutes, thighs, spinal muscles, hips, shoulders, pecs, lower legs and even your feet. And the more muscles you work, the stronger you get and the more calories you burn.
Check out this video to see how to plank correctly!
HI! I'm Dr. Shawna Dingman and I am the co-owner of Elevate Health Centres with my husband, Dr. Craig Dingman. I operate Elevate Women's Health Centre in Sunderland, where our family lives.
Speaking of family, I'm a mom of 3 amazing kids: Jackson, Jenna and Cole. I've always been passionate about the care of women and children, probably because I began my career as a pediatric and pregnancy chiropractor as a young mom with an infant! Aside from clinical practice, I also co-host a podcast for women chiropractors and coach women chiropractors who want to have practices that are a great fit for their families. In my "spare" time, I love to cottage with my family, hang out with the kids, read a book, catch a great show on Netflix, go for a run or have coffee with friends.