Functional Fitness: The Perfect Plank
It’s all about the core, about the core…but as Amy Beausang explains in her blog, the plank might just be the perfect exercise to get that paddle strength you need.
Amy’s Six Reasons (other than paddling) why you should care about the core:
- A stronger core helps you perform everyday acts. Bending to put on shoes or scoop up a package, turning to look behind you, sitting in a chair, or simply standing still — these are just a few of the many mundane actions that rely on your core and that you might not notice until they become difficult or painful. Cleaning house, gardening, fix-it-yourself projects, even basic activities of daily living — bathing or dressing, for example — rely on your core.
- A stronger core helps you get through your workdays injury-free, even if you have “just” a desk job. Sure, jobs that involve lifting, twisting, and standing all rely on core muscles. But did you realize that less obvious tasks — like sitting at your desk for hours — engage your core as well? Typing and computer use, for example, can make back muscles surprisingly stiff and sore, particularly if you’re not strong enough to practice good posture and aren’t taking sufficient breaks (see my post on The 55-Minute Work Hour for more on the topic of “breaks”).
- A stronger core helps stave off development of low back pain. A potentially debilitating, sometimes excruciating problem, low back pain affects about 80% of Americans at some point in our lives. This yet another reason why doing exercises that promote well-balanced, resilient core muscles is so important. Even if back pain does strike, it’s quite likely that a regimen of core exercises will be a part of the treatment plan.
- A stronger core helps you train properly and have more fun doing it. Running, biking, swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking, rowing, golfing, tennis, dancing, and any other athletic move. Name it, and your core plays a key role in its execution.
- A stronger core helps protect you from falling. Your core muscles help stabilize your body. This allows you to move in any direction–even on the bumpiest terrain–or stand in one spot without losing your balance. Thus, core exercises can lessen your risk of falling, which is even more important as we age. Roughly 250,000 people over the age of 65 land in the hospital each year due to hip fracture, and greater than 95% of these fractures are caused by falling–usually sideways.
- A stronger core gives you better posture (thus you look leaner). Your momma told you to sit up straight! Weak core muscles contribute to slouching. Here are 2 great reasons to care about good posture: (1) it trims your silhouette, and (2) projects confidence! Oh, and it actually allows you to breathe deeply, so that’s an important reason, too.