Core Stability and The Side Plank

By Sandra Watson,

  Filed under: Fitness, Running, Wellbeing
  Comments: None

Diagram of what muscles are used in a side plank

What is Core Stability?

Core Stability is as the name suggests is a firm, steady and solid counterforce at the core of the body’s movement.

A friend once likened movement with poor core strength as the equivalent of trying to fire a cannon out of a canoe. At some point it doesn’t help to keep upgrading the size of the canon, you will make bigger gains from investing in a stronger, more stable canoe.

The major Core muscles include : multifidus,internal and external obliques, pelvic floor muscles, rectus abdominis, erector spinae, transverse abdominis

We can also include the muscles of the bum and upper back as minor core muscles, these include : gluteus maximus, latissimus dorsi, trapezius

All core muscles are centred around the pelvic and back area at the hub of all limb movement.

 Improving the strength of the core/canoe significantly will increase the effectiveness of the proverbial canon.      

Who needs good Core Stability?

If you participate in any sport that involves running, you’ll need a strong core as the base from which to lever the legs.

All impact sports including boxing and rugby have core strength as a prerequisite to minimise the effects of a collision.

Sports requiring deftness and quick turns such as racket sports depend on a powerful core to assist with flexibility, agility and balance.

A strong core is a key factor for any sportspeople where limbs require a reliable foundation from which to work such as rowers or swimmers.

Endurance and strength sports including gymnastics and ballet rely on core strength.

The elderly and folks recovering from injury would all benefit from a strong core to minimise falls and possible further injury.

Strong core muscles assist in correcting posture

 As I have outlined above, having strong core stability is not only a key component of fitness for whatever specific sport or activity you’re training for but important too for a general healthy lifestyle.

A Side Plank is an extremely effective way of training not only the core but an amazing array of other muscles including shoulders, legs and glutes.

 Side planks employ bodyweight only which make them easy to perform anywhere, with no equipment issues and very little space.

 The basic form of the plank is an isometric exercise whereby the position is held with no movement. The tendency to ‘breath hold’ and ‘teeth grit’ for isometrics is common but this can raise blood pressure so be sure to count the breaths throughout and make sure you’re breathing out for at least as long as you breathe in.

Although the basic side plank excludes movement, there are lots of variations and progressions from this basic position, some of which do include a slow and controlled movement.

The basic position could be altered from forearm support to hand, from two to one footed points of contact. Movement such as hip dips, twists, leg lifts, knee raises and transitions in and out of full plank can be added. Other variations such as elevating the feet on a bar or holding extra weight can be implemented once the basic move can be held securely without failing posture for at least a minute.

 Side Plank Set up

Lie on your side on the floor with feet stacked on top of each other. (An easier alternative for a beginner is with the knees on the floor, stacked on top of each other.)

Rest the forearm of your lower arm on the floor at 90 degrees to your body. Elbow under the shoulder. Upper arm rested on top of your body.

Side Plank Execution

A great deal of effort is required to elevate the hips off the floor and maintain the raised position without the hips sinking down. Keep the hips elevated as long as you can, maintaining a straight line from ankle to hip to shoulder.

Hold the position maintaining normal breathing throughout.



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