Exercise of the Week – Table Plank
From last week’s exercise, the Cat Stretch, we move into this full body, core connecting exercise, the Table Plank. It is a great way to engage every muscle in the body in a stabilizing way. It requires a connection of the whole core, from shoulders to hips, arm stabilizers as well as leg stabilizers. This is a great way to strengthen the shoulders in a healthy manner and strengthen the muscles around the spine. It is a perfect and challenging move for all including pregnant, post-pregnant women and anyone with back issues. As you can see from the image, the back is in a safe position, neither arched or extended.
The set up:
Begin with hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under the hips. Feel your back from head to tailbone connected with the ribs in your back (not drooping down). Flip the toes under so that they look as mine do in the photo (this will be hard for those with inflexible toes, but is great to try to increase that flexibility).
Float your knees off of the ground so you are now supporting yourself from your hands and feet. Breathe here, maintaining this position, holding for 3-5 full breaths. As you get stronger in this position, you will be able to increase your breath count. After 3-5 breaths, bring your knees back down and sit back into a rest position. Pause, reset your body, then go again. Repeat this for 2 more sets for a total of 3 sets.
The thought process:
Lift up out of your hands and feet so that you are not bearing down into the ground but instead lifting up out of the ground and into your core. Every exhale should get you deeper into your core connection. You should feel your quadriceps (front thigh muscles) engaging as well as the muscles around your shoulders, most notable from your triceps (backs of the upper arms), through the armpits and into your back underneath the shoulder blades. Be mindful to keep the shoulders out of your ears and your head lifted. You’ll want to keep the table position of your back – not rounding or caving.
If your wrists hurt, this is usually due to a lack of connection and strength of the shoulder stabilizers into your back. You will want to keep thinking of lifting up through the whole length of your arms and into your back to strengthen that.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes!