Core stability is fundamental to not only performance in sport but to everyday life, the plank exercise also known as a prone bridge is a highly effective core stabilization exercise. Whether you’re an elite athlete, looking to increase fitness and lose weight, if you’re elderly or recovering from injury, this exercise and core stability training as a whole can provide significant benefits, these include;
- Improved Muscle Tone
- Improved Balance
- Improved Posture
- Improved Functional & Sporting Performance
- Decreased Risk of Injury
Including the Plank exercise within your exercise regime or even on a daily basis will help you to build core strength, stability, balance, and proprioception to enhance your everyday life and will help you achieve the above benefits of training your core on a regular basis.
performing the plank exercise on a regular basis results in improved core muscle tone, size, and strength. Isometric exercises require your muscles to constantly maintain tension to hold your body in the desired position,
Aesthetically this results in a flatter, firmer stomach with defined lines of the abdominal muscles commonly referred to as a ‘6 pack’ It’s important to note, a six pack should not be used as a guide to having achieved sufficient core stability.
The learned outcome of increasing your proprioception is what we mean by balance, it is how your body reacts and recovers from being unbalanced, this can be caused by any external source, such as gravity, strong winds, and an unstable floor. These forces can lead to you losing your balance, your muscles provide constant feedback to your brain about its surroundings and about the forces acting upon them, your muscles send messages via the nerves to the brain in a two-way feedback system which recruits sensory awareness, muscles and joint sensitivity that create this complex system of proprioception.
Think about traveling on the underground tube, as you get on everything is stable and you have no trouble balancing, however, you instinctively know that as soon as the train starts to move you will have trouble standing still! You grab onto the pole to brace yourself against the external force of the train moving. Even with support, your body is reacting at lightning speed to the forces acting upon your muscles, your core is stimulated proving a support to stop your body wobbling around. All your muscles from your toes to your shoulders are reacting and your body is moving bodyweight and putting extra force on one leg to the next.
This is exactly what proprioception is and increasing the strength, endurance, and conditioning of your key supporting muscle group, the core. Will enhance your ability and performance when it comes to proprioception.
Good posture is essential to ensure that movements can be performed with minimal strain to joints, ligament, tendons, and muscles including internal organs, nerves, and blood vessels. Being functionally able to move your body in all movement patterns and planes without injury is the result of having good well-balanced posture.
The core is a key building block of your posture, providing essential support at your trunk, it supports your back and keeps you upright while providing support for all movement patterns to maintain good posture.
Having a weak core and poor posture can lead to disc problems, osteoarthritis and postural conditions such as Kyphosis, lordosis, and scoliosis. Although we won’t cover these conditions here they are deviations from well-balanced posture which can lead to back pain.
Protecting your back, ensuring your trunk can support you and help maintain your posture is key to maintaining good posture. Having a weak core is like a slinky, it wobbles around without control whereas a strong core supports and protects.
It goes without saying that having a strong core that is trained to react to certain forces will have no end of benefit for all type of sporting disciplines, from javelin throwing to boxing and playing rugby. Begin able to train in sport-specific movements creates muscle memory, improves strength, coordination and proprioception leading to increased performance. The core muscle group connects nearly all functional movement patterns, it is the ability of muscle groups to work together as one unit with the key support of the core that enables true functional and sport specific movements.
Core stabilization should be the foundation of every workout, training regime and everyday life. It helps us stay upright, injury free and able to perform at our best. Good posture and improved proprioception help us to reduce the risk of injury. Through sport specific training we can also protect the body from injury when it comes to any sport adding specificity to the training regime will help muscle memory when it comes to performing your sport and thus protecting your body from an unknown force that might cause injury.
However, you don’t need to be a sportsman or an athlete to benefit from reducing injury. Begin able to perform everyday movements, protect yourself from trips and falls and the ability for muscle memory to maintain well-balanced posture will help reduce your risk of injury, pain, and discomfort.
Planking every day will help stimulate your core muscles to build strength and endurance, if you plank for 60 seconds a day it can make a big difference and all in half the time it takes to brush your teeth. Make it a habit and you’ll strong core in no time.
A challenge like the Kiss Fitness PlankAwayJanuary challenge is a great way to start, it’s a simple daily exercise challenge that you can join in every January, but it doesn’t have to stop at January, once you’ve trained your core throughout January, stick to it with a regular daily plank.