The recent Coronavirus pandemic has us all locked inside our homes. While it is a sad truth that we cannot go for a run out or hit the gym for a cardio workout, this can be an opportunity to discover ways to make our bodies and mind more self-reliant.
Ancient Indian scriptures mention that our physical movements need to be coordinated to connect our body to the mind and soul so that with each step, our Being aligns with the Universe. In modern day routines, this can be understood as having a well-balanced body and mind.
An important exercise is the Plank pose- a simple, isometric exercise which engages major muscle groups of the body in a single pose. This one exercise can work wonders, literally, from head to toe and help build strength and stability in the body- 60 seconds at a time.
Simply put, the plank is a 2- step position :
Lie on your stomach and gently lift your torso on your elbows and toes while keeping your back straight. Your body should be in a straight line from neck to heels. Do not exert force to move up or down but simply hold the pose by tightening your core muscles.
Now comes the hard part !.
Once you are in plank, engage and hold as follows :
Hold this position for 60 seconds. For beginners, start with a few seconds and gradually progress to 60 seconds. Switch from elbow to forearm plank in order to hold the pose for longer. You will definitely feel a burn in your muscles and some shaking or quivering in the body. That just means you are burning calories !
Exercise is not always fun. Even a 10 minute workout can seem daunting to many of us leading sedentary lifestyles requiring habits like sitting slumped in a chair for hours at end, even when we work from home. We always think about working towards a healthier routine with a regular exercise schedule but somehow, it never happens because of lack of time, resources, motivation or all of them clubbed together !
Moreover, exercising in a gym or running in a public park can be scary for us introverts ! We want a good body but we don't want to interact with other, sweaty people - *shivers in horror*
You can literally Plonk in a Plank anywhere! It can be the bedroom floor or out in the sun in our balcony or garden (AVOID BATHROOMS- Caution ! Wet, Slippery Floor ! ). A 60 second Plank done a couple of times a day can give you a great core exercise. Add some basic stretches to have body movement restored even when you don't move around a lot.
The Plank pose is a Bodyweight exercise, i.e. you only use your own weight to enhance your bio motor skills like endurance, speed, flexibility and balance. There is no need for equipment of any kind and people of all ages, who are capable, can get into a plank as part of their exercise. You can use the Plank like a starting point of a marathon and gradually incorporate more exercise in order to build your own, personalized exercise routine.
A strong core is much more than six-pack abs. We use our core muscles unconsciously for several actions in a day ranging from bending and lifting weight, for balance and even to managing our breathing. A weakened core can cause serious injury if ignored. The plank position helps target the core muscles and give them a good burn to build muscle strength.
These are abdominal wall muscles responsible for stabilising the lumbar spine and pelvis before movement of limbs (raising your arms, bending forwards etc. ). Building this muscle increases our strength to lift heavy weights.
This is the muscle which gives you your six pack ! Working this long strap muscle can help improve high jumps and kicks.
These muscles make side bending, waist twisting and turning possible.
This is the strongest muscle of the body and is responsible for the movement of hip and thigh. It is connected to the tailbone and maintains the shape of your back and buttocks.
Holding a plank position can fire up all these muscle groups simultaneously giving us the following benefits :
A bad posture is when we slouch and have slumped shoulders. This happens because of poor alignment and sitting for long durations.
A good posture is one where the weight of the body is distributed evenly. It reduces the stress on our spine and gives us a straight, well aligned body while walking, standing and sitting.
The plank position engages all muscles from your neck, shoulder and back up to your pelvis, thighs and legs. Gradually, this results in a strong posture giving you the confidence to walk tall and proper !
Our core muscles are responsible for helping us balance while riding a bike or standing on one leg. Even dancing requires engaging the core muscles to achieve the right balance in form. Planks hold the core muscles taut thus teaching your muscle to endure. This builds muscle stability and increases body balance.
Many of us, even at a young age, experience back pain and lower back issues. This is due to bad posture and bad alignment of the body. Regular planks can help improve posture and rid you of back pain.
This is because planks help build strong abdominal muscles which reduce the strain on your back, shoulders and neck. Planking down after a long day of sitting on your computer can help relieve neck and shoulder knots too and help your body come into alignment. Planks and regular exercise can prevent degenerative muscle atrophy caused by osteoarthritis too.
If you’ve read this far, you have realized that our core muscles do more than look pretty ! Plank and its variations like a side plank, reverse plank, resistance planks etc. can help build strength and endurance.
However, only doing planks can become monotonous and you may quit soon. Thus, your ‘planking’ needs to be regular in the build-up towards a routine consisting of multiple exercises like cardio, weight training etc. in order to give your body a comprehensive workout instead of a core burn out !
Are headstands, handstands or forearm stands your dream ?
Start planking to reach your goal !
In Yoga, the plank position, called Kumbhakasana and the side plank or Vasisthasana are essential poses for flexibility and core strength. They help improve flexibility in hips and thighs when combined with other poses. Abdominal muscles are essential for performing a headstand or a handstand and planks lead the way !
When we sit and work for long hours or are not physically active in our life, our metabolism tends to slow down. Doing the plank position regularly improves circulation, thus improving body metabolism. The stronger your muscles grow, the more your food intake will increase. However, if you keep exercising regularly and eat a healthy diet, the combination will make your metabolic rate go up and you will burn more calories, which results in fat loss. Regular planking can improve your metabolism and you will burn calories, even in your sleep !
Any and all exercises release endorphins which help elevate our mood. However, planks can be special mood lifters because it engages the stress corners of our body. Our shoulders, neck and back usually tense up and have knots because of strain and stress, both mental or physiological. Contracting these muscles literally squeezes the tension out from major muscles where the stress accumulates.
Constant stress can cause various mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Thus, exercise is essential to remind our brain and body to release stress and rejuvenate.
Plank pose is a wholesome pose to charge up or relax the body, pre or post workout, respectively. It is a simple solution and can be a great start to health and wellness. Protect yourself from unfortunate events by buy health insurance policy.
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