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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

      More by this author

      Dr. Jamie Schwandt

      Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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      Last Updated on September 20, 2018

      How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

      How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

      Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

      If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

      1. Breathe

      The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

      • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
      • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
      • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

      Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

      2. Loosen up

      After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

      Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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      3. Chew slowly

      Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

      Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

      Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

      4. Let go

      Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

      The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

      It’s not. Promise.

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      Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

      Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

      21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

      5. Enjoy the journey

      Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

      Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

      6. Look at the big picture

      The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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      Will this matter to me…

      • Next week?
      • Next month?
      • Next year?
      • In 10 years?

      Hint: No, it won’t.

      I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

      Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

      7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

      You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

      Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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      8. Practice patience every day

      Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

      • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
      • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
      • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

      Final thoughts

      Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

      Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

      Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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