Looking for an activity or exercise to get a body ready for fine motor tasks? Look no further than the plank pose! In this pose. Individuals have a chance to potentially work their entire core and have options to boost shoulder and abdominal strength! In yoga we often use plank as a transition pose, but it has many benefits all on its own!

In yoga practice, we usually have individuals spend no more than 3 to 4 deep breaths in this pose. Plank is a complicated pose with a lot of variations possible. Watch for the following

  • Proper spinal alignment and placement of hips, if this is difficult have the individual drop to elbows and/or knees. 
    • From elbows and/or knees: if further compensatory strategies are observed to maintain this position have the individual try on a vertical surface (table, wall) to get into proper alignment versus pushing muscles through incorrect motor patterns. 
  • Locking elbows, shoulders, knees. Some individuals tend to “hang out” in their joints rather than recruiting muscles to aid in maintaining a position. 
    • Cue for slight bend in these major joints to prevent injury.

When getting into this pose, it is most natural from downward dog, forward fold, and/or superman or other prone positions. Hands or elbows should be aligned directly underneath the shoulders. Fingers should point forward or first fingers slightly toward each other. Feet extend out straight behind the individual if completing on toes, maintain proper hip and spinal alignment. If on knees, knees should be aligned underneath hips and body weight should be towards the front of the knee, not on the knee cap. Squeeze abdominal muscles to keep belly from sagging to floor. Use alternative strategies as necessary to cue to proper alignment. Be mindful of possible triggers when using alternative supports. Use neutral language to advise individuals to keep their bottoms down, but not sagging.

If you are working to strengthen the plank pose, you may consider some of the following strategies:

  • Transitioning between down dog and plank
  • Up, up, down, down: moving between elbow and hand plank, moving one elbow or hand at a time.
  • Shoulder taps: bring opposite hand to opposite shoulder
  • Mountain climbers: bring knees to midline
  • Rolling planks: onto one arm and leg, then “roll” through plank to the other side
  • High five partner

Be advised movement in plank can elicit primitive reflex responses.

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