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If You Can’t Hold This Pose For 50 Seconds, You Might Be Prone To Serious Health Problems

If You Can’t Hold This Pose For 50 Seconds, You Might Be Prone To Serious Health Problems

Are you looking for a specific exercise that will provide you with immense fitness and medical benefits? Are you looking for the most efficient exercise to shred your abs, strengthen your core, and improve your posture? If so, the plank exercise is right for you.

Most people think of our abdominal muscles when we discuss our core. These muscles are a significant component, but there are also other muscles that serve an integral role in the strength of our core. The muscles in our lower back, glutes, and hips play an important role to our core as well. Knowing this, we should all embrace the plank exercise because, if you can’t hold this pose for at least 50 seconds, then you might be prone to some serious health problems.[1]

What is the plank exercise?

Before we discuss some of these health concerns, let’s first take a look at what exactly the plank is. Proper form is important for maximizing this exercise. Learning how to perform the plank will help you improve your core, glutes, hamstrings, balance, posture, and overall fitness.

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To start a plank, enter the push-up position and hold your body off the ground. You should form and hold a straight line and follow the following steps:[2]

  • Hold your elbows directly under your shoulders; place wrists in line with your elbows.
  • Contract your abdominal muscles, squeeze your glutes and thighs (don’t forget to breath normally).
  • Hold the plank in the proper form. Beginners should shoot for 20-30 seconds; however, your goal should be at least 50 seconds.
  • Avoid dropping your head, shoulders, or hips.

    A weak core will lead to poor posture.

    Poor posture is a telltale sign of a weak core. You have all seen people with poor posture and there are a multitude of factors that can lead to this. Some of these factors include: stress at home, stress at work, slouching at a desk, and even staring down at your phone.

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    Our lower back and abdominal muscles assist us in stabilizing our spine. If our muscles are weak, this will cause us to slouch. Here are some quick tips to improve your posture:

    • Perform the plank exercise daily.
    • Stand up straight.
    • Pull your head back and up.
    • Move your cellphone to eye level.
    • Wear a posture belt.

    Lower back pain is a telltale sign of a weak core.

    A sure sign of weakness in our core is lower back pain. The curvature of our lumbar spine is negatively affected with a weak core. Lower back pain is one of our most common sources of pain.[3]

    Failure to improve your core can lead to serious health conditions. Here are a few tips to strengthen your core and lower back: exercise (such as the dynamic lumbar stabilization exercise), improve your posture, sleep in an optimal position, improve your flexibility, and of course, perform the plank exercise.

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    Poor balance is a sign that you may have a weak core.

    If your core muscles are weak, then how do you expect them to stabilize your body? Poor balance is not easy to identify. How we maintain our balance is a function of our senses along with coordinated movement from different areas of our body.[4]

    Here is a quick option for a balance test. Use the following steps and test your balance:[5]

    • Step 1: Extend one leg forward.
    • Step 2: Extend the same leg sideways.
    • Step 3: Extend the same leg backwards.
    • Step 4: Flex the same knee at a 90-degree angle.

    The inability to hollow your stomach is a sign of a weak core.

    An easy sign of a weak core is the inability to perform the stomach hollowing test. When you conduct this exercise, the intent is for your stomach to cave inwards when your abdomen contracts. You do this by taking a natural breath, pulling your abs in toward your spine, and holding it. If you lack the ability to do this, then you possess a weak core. See the image below for a visual representation of this exercise.

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      Overall weakness in your core muscles will lead to serious health conditions if not properly rectified. One guaranteed exercise that will improve every condition discussed in this article is the plank exercise. The benefits of performing the plank exercise are amazing. Not only will you strengthen your core, but you will also strengthen your lower back and upper body, improve your chances of avoiding injury, significantly improve your posture, and shred your abs!

      Most importantly, planks can be done anywhere. You do not need a gym membership, a personal trainer, or any equipment. Heck, do your planks naked if you want! Two things will happen when you embrace the plank – your fitness will improve and so will your overall health.

      So, what are you waiting for? Drop right now and start planking!

      Featured photo credit: Gymjunkies.com via gymjunkies.com

      Reference

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      Dr. Jamie Schwandt

      Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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      Last Updated on December 2, 2018

      How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

      How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

      Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

      The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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      The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

      Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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      Review Your Past Flow

      Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

      Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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      Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

      Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

      Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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      Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

      Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

      We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

      Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

        Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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