For an exercise which requires no equipment, you can do the plank. There are several versions of planks, so you can tailor the exercise to your level of ability. I would suggest a combination of side planks and standard planks.
Throughout all of these exercises, make sure you breathe steadily and keep your deep core muscles engaged. These should not cause back pain and you should ensure you are not lifting your bottom too high or letting yourself dip down or arch. Keep your body in a nice straight line.
Try and build up to holding your plank for 60 seconds, then longer if possible (120 seconds). DO NOT continue if you feel you cannot hold the position with good form otherwise you can do more harm than good...stop and rest.
Obviously the 'simple' planks are the easiest, then the 'standard' planks and I have then added some progression options at the end. This is not an exhaustive list of options but gives you a few ideas.
Some planking options:
Simple forearm plank
Simple extended plank
Simple side plank
Standard forearm plank
Standard extended plank
Standard side plank
Standard extended side plank
To make the standard forearm or extended plank harder you can do the following:
1. Go from forearm support plank to extended plank and back down again throughout the exercise (see above for images of the forearm plank and extended plank).
2. Lift one leg up and lower, then repeat with the other leg and lower, continuing to do this throughout the exercise.
3. Take one leg out to the side, then the other, then return to the start position, and repeat these movements throughout the exercise.
4. Bend one knee up and out to the side and return to the start position then do the same with the other leg, repeating this throughout the exercise.
There is also the Reverse plank, which is like the standard forearm plank but you have your back to the floor so you are the other way around. Give it a go if you feel you can.
PLEASE NOTE: If you suffer from back pain or have had a recent injury, please seek a physiotherapy assessment prior to undertaking any new exercises.
The advice and exercises included in this article do not substitute for a professional assessment. It is always advisable to seek a professional medical or physiotherapy assessment following any injury, or prior to undertaking any new exercises.
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