It’s estimated that 80% of U.S. adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives, making it the third most expensive medical condition in the United States. Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work and the second-leading cause for doctor’s visits.
Fortunately, there is one core exercise that we can do that can reduce low back pain—the plank.
Here’s How Planking Can Reduce Low Back Pain
Strengthens Your Core Muscles
When your core muscles are weak, this forces your body to rely on the overuse and overextension of the back muscles. Planks are a great way to strengthen your core muscles without added stress on your back.
Once you strengthen your core muscles, your body can rely on your stronger core for everyday activities and exercises, which will reduce low back pain. By boosting your core strength, you'll also be less likely to rely on other back pain treatments, such as medications.
Improves Your Posture
When you have poor posture, your muscles and ligaments strain to keep you balanced — which can lead to back pain, headaches and other problems. Sure, you can keep reminding yourself to stand up straight and stop slouching but the reality is that your core strength plays a crucial role in permanently correcting bad posture.
Planks strengthen the muscles that allow you to hold a neutral spinal position, which improves your posture by giving you the power to keep from hunching while standing or sitting for long periods of time. Better posture equals less back pain.
Increases Muscle Definition
When your back muscles are weak they have a hard time supporting your spine which places stress on your ligaments and spinal structure causing you pain in your lower back.
Planks strengthen and build lean muscle definition in your core muscles as well as the muscles in your shoulders, chest, legs, and back. The stronger the muscles are in your back, the less likely you will be to experience back pain.
Works Your Core Without Added Stress on the Spine
Abdominal exercises like sit-ups are hard on your back — they push your curved spine against the floor and work your hip flexors. When the hip flexors are too tight, they tug on the lower spine, which can create lower back pain.
Crunches are considered unsafe for older adults because they place unnecessary stress on the spine. Many older adults suffer from spinal degeneration therefore, adding more stress to the area increases the likelihood of injury.
Planking provides a safe alternative to doing crunches and sit-ups because the plank not only places less stress on the spine, it also helps to strengthen the muscles that surround the spine which can reduce back pain.
So, if you are tired of dealing with low back pain or are interested in preventing it, start planking daily. Three minutes each day of total plank time is all you to help keep your back pain free.
**If you currently suffer from back pain, always consult with a medical professional before starting any exercise routine.