Plank. Is it Good or Bad during pregnancy and postpartum?
Plank or not to plank, that is a big pre and postnatal exercise question these days! The answer on what to do lys within where you’re at in your core strength. Look over and ask yourself these 3 questions to find out if you should be planking right now.
1. Can you engage your deep set core muscles?
These muscles ly between your rib cage and hips and incorporate the back muscles from rib cage to low spine too. When you plank you should be able to feel these muscles tighten and move inward and toward one another creating a solid support system for your spine and the rest of your body. If your back hurts or if you’re just not sure whether you’re engaging your ab muscles then lay off and use the modifications I’ve listed in this post until your muscles are ready for the more advanced, plank pose.
2. Do you have separated abs or Is there a conning shape in your abdomen when you try to plank?
If so then you should begin with modifications to strengthen your core and work you about muscles toward one another before you plank.
3. Are you in 3rd trimester or less than 6weeks postpartum?
Every body is different so this rule isn’t for everyone but for most women doing plank in 3rd trimester is dangerous because most of us can’t connect with the deeply set core muscles and post partum we need a good amount of time to heal before we try to engage with moves like plank. In third trimester and up until about 3months post partum I suggest doing modifications to strengthen the core and prepare it for future planking.
🍼Prenatal Plank Modifications🍼
*see pictures below*
-Reverse Table Hold
-Kneeling Spinal Balance
👶Postnatal Plank Modifications👶
-Stability Ball Forearm Rolling
-Triceps Push Up Hold
-Plank with towel btw thighs
-Hip Bridge Spinal Rolling
2rounds, 8reps on each side
1. Begin on all fours, knees below hips and hands just under shoulders.
2. Engage abdomen by pulling belly in toward spine.
3. Exhale and round in to hug baby closer to your spine as you pull Rt. elbow to Lt. Knee. They do not have to touch.
4. Inhale, extend and lengthen arm and leg, looking forward and pulling shoulders down your back while lifting up through your back body. Try to Lt. keep knee and toe at hip height, no higher. Lt hip is pointing down toward the ground vs being open. Squeeze inner thighs together and keep shoulders unshrugged.
5. Thats one rep. Repeat movement 7 more times.
REVERSE TABLE PULSE
3rounds, 8reps, 30sec rest btw rounds
1. Begin in seated posit with hands under shoulders, knees bent and feet hip distance apart and flat on the ground.
2. Press through palms and especially through the inside of your feet as you lift your hips high into table top pose.
3. Hold for 2 breaths as you imagine stretching your hips up to the ceiling as if they could touch. Stretch and simultaneously press down through your thumbs, opening through your chest, and down through your big toes while keeping knees in line with your hips.
4. Drop your booty back to the floor with control.
5. Thats one rep. Repeat movement 7 more times.
KNEELING SIDE CRUNCH
2rounds, 8reps each side
1.Begin kneeling on your side with knee stacked under hips, hand under shoulder and top arm and leg stretching in opposite directions. Feel rooted through your extended/top leg’s foot and through your bent knee and arm. Check to make sure your body is in one line from the top of your head to your stacked shoulders, hips, legs and feet.
2. Stretch long though your side abs then exhale, crunch as you bring elbow and knee to meet in the middle of your body. You should feel your abs pulling inward as you crunch in. Also, side abs, back and outer thigh contract during this movement.
3. Inhale and stretch back out to beginning position. Thats one rep. Do 7more!
2rounds, 20-45sec hold
1. Start with bottom knee one ground and top leg extended. Once you feel balanced you can kick your bottom foot up under your top foot for side plank hold. It helps to lean your head back, open through your chest and push hips forward as you lift your underside up higher toward the ceiling.
2. If you are unstable than gently bend your top leg and drop your foot behind your opposite knee. This will give you a little lift and support. *Continue to exhale while pulling abs in toward your spine because this is the most important part of this move.
3. If side plank is easy for you try lifting your top leg for more of a challenge.
*This pose is not for everyone but I encourage you to try it! It’ll alleviate back body and hip tension and has relaxing effects from opening through the front body too. You can hold this pose at any point so if you need to stop at #2 or #3 thats ok! Hold there for 2-3 breaths and over time you will be able to go deeper into camel.
hold for 3-5breaths
1. Begin kneeling with palms pushing into low back, elbows squeezed together, chest open and lifted, booty so so tight and hips pouch forward.
2. Drop your head back completely to release cervical spine muscles and walk your hands down your back to eventually find your feet.
3. Keep pressing hips forward, booty is solid and tight, belly relaxed as you continue to backbend and find the bottom of your feet. Now place palms on the back of your feet for the final pose.
4. Press palms into your feet so hard that your arms straighten and open the chest. Keep chest lifted and push hips so far forward that you feel like you could sling out of this pose. Keep head and neck relaxed as you inhale to fill the chest and exhale go deep into the pose.
5. Now come up the way you went down. Head is the last thing to rise. Walk hands back up your legs till you find your low back. Snake up 1 vertebrae at a time, *head and neck are last*
6. Exhale as you slowly make your way onto your heels (hero pose).
There are several parts of this sequence that are optional. Listen to your body. If you cannot stay engaged through your abdomen or if you have pain anywhere then do the modifications or skip vinyasa till you are post partum. Not every pregnancy is meant for vinyasa flow.
1. Down Dog. Pull abs in, feel shoulders side down your back toward your hips as you press the floor away. Down Dog is rooted through the legs so try to press your heels into the ground which will open your hamstrings. Your body will allow you to fully open through your hamstrings if you contract and pull your quads up into your thighs. Set your body up here for 3 breaths before you begin to flow.
2. Shift out into plank (immediately drop to your knees for the modification) for 1 breath.
3. Drop to your knees, lift your chest for a modified up dog.
4. *Optional Gentle Back Bend: Toes touch and head reaches around and back as if they could touch. Keep booty tight.
5. *Optional: Breathe in. Straighten Legs by pressing toes into the ground, pulling quads into your thighs, eye gaze lifted, chest open, body strong. Modification is Cat Pose.
6. Exhale and lift hips by pulling belly in for dog down. Do 5-10 rounds being sure to breathe through each movement you make.