Top 10 Plank Exercise Problems & Mistakes

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Top ten problems & mistakes while doing planks

Plank exercise is a body weight exercise to hold your body off the floor (trunk portion) in a straight line. Plank exercises develop strength and endurance primarily in the core muscles as well as shoulder, arms and gluteus. It also improves balance and posture. However, planks are not always passing smoothly. Are you having trouble with planks? Here is a brief description of five typical problems you will encounter while performing this excellent core exercise for the first time.

Problem #1. Maintaining a stable spine with the torso parallel to the ground

PROBLEM: The purpose of the plank is to maintain a stable spine with the torso parallel to the ground. It’s not uncommon for a person to either lift the hips too high or to arch the back and lower the hips to the floor. Each one positions the body in a way that makes holding the position easier, but you lose many of the benefits.

SOLUTION: If you’re having a problem with the position, try holding the plank with one or both knees on the floor. In this case, begin in a normal plank position and then lower your knee(s) to the floor.

Problem #2. Experiencing lower back pain

PROBLEM: You’re experiencing lower back pain. This is generally due to a lack of core strength and is characterized by a substantial arch in the lower back.

SOLUTION: This may or may not be a sign of something more serious. We’d recommend getting your back looked at by a doctor before moving forward. If you’re cleared to exercise but experience pain in the lower back, there are a couple of steps you can take. First, retry the plank but focus again on bracing your core. Second, determine when the pain starts. If it begins immediately, then you should modify the movement by dropping your knees to the floor. If the pain happens after a certain amount of time (10 seconds, for example), then hold the plank for that amount of time and work toward increasing the length of time that you can hold a plank pain-free.

Problem #3. Shaking while doing plank

PROBLEM: Shaking while doing plank.

SOLUTION: It’s not uncommon for your body to begin involuntarily shaking when trying a new exercise. Shaky muscles can occur for a variety of reasons. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s simply your body trying to figure out what to do. It’s occurring because you are at a higher level of threshold to what you can handle. The shaking should stop once you’re more comfortable with the exercise. This is how you know the exercise you are doing is challenging and will make you stronger. With some time and practice, your nervous system will increase in capability and you will no longer shake.

Problem #4. Experiencing shoulder pain

PROBLEM: You’re experiencing shoulder pain? This is again generally due to a lack of strength, specifically in your deltoids, tricpes, and chest.

SOLUTION: There is something you can do to help relieve some of the stress. First, make sure that you squeeze your shoulder blades together and that your arms are in the correct position. Furthermore, there’s a good chance that your shoulders and chest are too far forward which means too much of your body weight is supported in your upper body. You need to shift weight to your lower body and you can do this by flexing your feet or by shifting in a horizontal direction behind you. If you’re still experiencing pain, you can try the plank with your arms fully extended. In this case, your hands should be directly under your shoulders and your elbows should be extended.

Problem #5. Hips sinking towards the ground

PROBLEM: You can’t stop your hips from sinking toward the ground.

SOLUTION: Are your hips too low to the ground? If yes, you’re probably relying on the lower back to support your body weight rather than properly engaging the abdominal muscles. It is much easier to rely on your spinal cord instead of properly engaging your core muscles. You can solve this common plank exercise problem by lengthening your tailbone towards the back of the room, drawing your navel toward your spine, and pressing the front of your thighs up towards the ceiling (away from the floor). Be sure to keep your shoulders directly in line with your elbows.

Problem #6. Arched back

PROBLEM: You can’t get rid of arched back posture?

SOLUTION: The best you can do to solve this problem is to slightly tilt your pelvis. This will flatten your back in great extent. Squeezing your glutes is also helpful. In other words, from this arched back position focus on driving your belly button right up into your lower back. Doing this will fire up your abdominal muscles and flex your spine to a more neutral position. If you’re doing this correctly you should feel substantially more tension in your abdominal muscles. This tension may even be so high that you can’t hold the plank position for much longer.

Problem #7. Reaching your butt to the sky

PROBLEM: You are tempted to stick your butt in the air during elbow plank pose? This is not a big deal but sticking your butt up makes the exercise a lot easier, therefore removing the focus away from the core muscles.

SOLUTION: The best you can do to solve this common problem is to create larger distance between your elbows and your feet. Also, make sure you are squeezing your glutes and keeping tension in your abs. Keep your butt down, so that it’s aligned with your heels and shoulders.

Problem #8. Neck pain

PROBLEM: Letting your neck drop or excessive forward head posture? When the neck isn’t straight and the head is dropped forward or lifted up, pain in the upper back or neck will likely occur.

SOLUTION: In elbow plank pose, the neck must be held in neutral alignment. In other words, your head should be neither dropped forward, nor should it be lifted up. Simply imagine your neck and head being an extension of the straight line that’s created by the rest of your body.

Problem #9. Experiencing wrist pain

PROBLEM: The full plank (straight-armed plank) requires that you rest your bodyweight directly on your wrists. Over time, this can cause wrist pain or aggravate existing wrist irritation. However, don’t give up on this core-strengthening exercise just yet. There are simple exercise modifications and swaps for less pain and happier wrists.

SOLUTION: Forearm planks are ideal variations for individuals with wrist problems or pain. This way, your forearms are what keeps you up, allowing your wrists to rest. Or, you can simply continue with the straight armed plank while holding onto a pair of dumbbells.

Problem #10. Rounding your shoulders

PROBLEM: You can’t avoid rounding your shoulders?

SOLUTION: Pull your shoulder blades down your back and open your chest. Also, do planks parallel to a mirror (provides visual feedback allowing you to self correct).

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Hey! My name is Kruno, and I'm the owner and author of Bodybuilding Wizard. I started this website back in late 2014, and it has been my pet project ever since. My goal is to help you learn proper weight training and nutrition principles so that you can get strong and build the physique of your dreams!

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