Sorry to miss yesterday. Clearly, PTs get busy and/or lazy and drop the ball too.

The bad news is that we’re planking again. The good news is that this one will make ab exercise # 1 seem easy! There are a number of ways to do the side plank, all of them feel awful, but they are great for strengthening (and acquiring hot abs). So let’s take a look at the basic form, then discuss:

The model in the photo, as you can see, is performing the plank on her elbow, feet stacked one on top of the other, legs straight. You can perform the pose on your elbow or on your hand. If you are on your right elbow, you will feel the exercise more in your right obliques, right quadratus lumborum, and right hip abductors. If you come up on your right hand, the intensity will lessen in your trunk but it will become more of a balance exercise for your right shoulder and scapular muscles. Keep your elbow or hand directly under your shoulder; if you are feeling a lot of stress in your shoulder, check your elbow/hand position. Pull in your belly button, keep both hip bones facing forward, don’t let your hips sag, breathe! If you absolutely, positively cannot hack stacking your legs one on top of the other, you have my permission to slide your top foot forward or backward so your feet are staggered. Just make sure both hip bones are pointed forward and your trunk is not rotated. And if the pose is still impossible, you have my permission to put your bottom knee down until you have the courage to straighten it and lift it off the floor again.

Start with 10 to 20 seconds each side, working up to a minute each side. Rock star challenges include holding the position and doing tiny side crunches by lifting your waist away from the floor (the smaller the movement, the more you will feel it in your obliques), or reaching your top arm straight up towards the ceiling and touching it down to the floor in front of you, with a small weight if you like, up and down while you perform the exercise.

–Kathleen Doehla, M.S. P.T.