To plank or not to plank…that is the question. On a daily basis I am asked, “is this exercise safe?” Well, there are pros and cons to planking in everyday life and even more so during pregnancy. I can’t tell you if exercises are safe for you because it depends on HOW you do it. So here are the ups and downs and special considerations for doing the plank while pregnant:
Pros of planking:
Great core exercise: helps strengthen the core muscles, especially the transverse and rectus abdominis muscles
May reduce low back pain when done correctly
Can increase flexibility
Improved tone in arms and buttocks
Cons of planking:
Can increase low back pain, prolapse, or worsen a diastasis or pelvic dysfunction when done incorrectly
Often done incorrectly
The top picture shows one way planks are commonly done in a less-than-ideal way. The low back starts to sag, putting more pressure on the low back increasing the risk of back pain rather than decreasing. This technique can also force pressure into the front of the pelvis which is not beneficial if there is prolapse or a risk of prolapse
The bottom picture shows another less-than ideal form that pretty common. Here we tuck the butt under and round the low back. This can force the pressure distribution to the abdomen and also to your hind end rather than the entire core
Considerations during pregnancy:
During pregnancy, our rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis muscles are naturally stretched to allow for more space for the baby. The rectus must hold the neutral position and often loses pelvic stability, causing increased tension in the back muscles.
Must be able to breathe throughout the entire exercise. Holding your breath can put added stress on the pelvic floor which is needed to maintain the position.
If you are wanting to do planks but not sure if you do them correctly or if they are “safe” for you at this time, reach out to Dr. Lauren for an evaluation and learn proper technique as well as other exercises that can be beneficial to your health or pregnancy journey.