It’s important to look after your mind, body and soul — which is why this week’s dose of self-care is dedicated to a simple, easy-to-practice exercise that takes just five minutes of your time. Which move to add to your daily routine? The humble, yet highly-effective plank.
September signals a return to routine, with an influx of to-do’s added to the calendar, an increase in work commitments and back-to-school duties for parents. This can often mean we dedicate less time to ourselves and our bodies, but it is still important to inject daily some exercise into our regime — even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood or a quick at-home workout. Practicing a plank pose is the perfect place to start.
Planking for five minutes a day can be beneficial to our body and our mind. Hailed as an effective ab-maker, the bodyweight exercise can help us strengthen our muscles and improve our mental focus beyond the mat. “The core muscles are force transducers – they transfer force from the upper body to the lower body and vice versa so they’re working all the time,” explains former Olympian and founder of .Body//Hack: Fitness Education, Heba Abdel Gawad.
“If we work on these muscles consciously through training and exercise, they should be working more efficiently autonomically when we’re not thinking of them in our day to day life,” says Heba. Activation of the abs is especially important during times of limited activity and elongated periods of staying still (i.e. a summer spent lounging around in lockdown).
How to master the plank pose? “Make sure you’re not holding your breath and that your hips are not too low as that can strain your lower back,” says Heba. “Your neck should also be aligned and not hanging down.” To further challenge the core, try shoulder taps and maintain your high plank position while tapping each shoulder in turn with your opposite hand.
Practice the plank pose five every minutes every day for maximum impact.