Exercise of the Week – Modified Side Plank
If you’re like many who have done the full version of a Side Plank, then you are most likely not a big fan. It can feel awkward, not great, and can bother the wrists and shoulders. The Modified Side Plank is a great way to train those lateral/side muscles of the core without too much of the discomfort. This is a great full body exercise that works to stabilize and strengthen the arm/shoulder muscles along with the whole core while achieving great mechanics in body placement.
The Set Up:
From a side position, begin with one hip down on the ground with knees bent and in line with the hips. The same side elbow will be supporting you directly underneath the shoulder. You can either make a fist or have your palm flat on the floor, but make sure that hand is in line with the elbow. Set up is key here so try in front of a mirror to see where all the pieces go. Ideally you will be in one line from head, shoulders, hips, and knees. Knees and feet should stay stacked on top of one another.
Lift your hips off of the ground and reach your top arm above the shoulder. You will feel the bottom side of your waist (closest to the ground) engage as well as the muscles supporting the bottom shoulder and arm. Stay in this position and take 2-4 breaths. Then, drop your hips back to the floor, but staying engaged lift them back up again. Continue this, tapping your hip down to the ground and slowly lifting back up, pause in the up position, and then back down for 3-5 reps. Repeat on the other side.
The best place to perform this exercise is in front of a mirror so you will be able to see what your head and shoulder do when lift into the plank position. Think of keeping your head back in line with your body (in line with your spine). Also, keep your supporting shoulder out of your head and ear. Take a look at what your hand does on the supporting arm when you lift. Work on keeping it firm and strong in the ground – no breaking in the wrist. You can imagine a string attached to the top hip and the string lifting your hips effortlessly off of the ground. Maintain that effortless hold through your breath; each exhale should place you just a bit deeper into your body and the connection.
Something to remember: oftentimes developing a connection with our body and becoming aware of our mechanics (the way we move, work, hold ourselves… our form basically), is just as important as actual exercise.
I would love to hear if you try this exercise and what your thoughts are. Try it throughout the week and see if it begins to get a little easier for you after a few days.