Plank: Why Being Careful?

Staying too long propped on your elbows and toes may cause back pain and increased pressure.

As a rule, visitors to gyms are encouraged to do the plank exercise as long as possible — five, ten and even more minutes. It is believed that the longer they keep the muscle tension, the better. However, according to Professor Stuart McGill from the University of Waterloo (Canada), specializing in spine biomechanics, “longer” does not mean “better” in this case.

McGill believes that the optimal duration of this exercise is 10 seconds at a time. The Daily Mail quotes McGill saying that one can quite successfully strengthen the abdominal muscles, doing the planking exercise for 10 seconds, then relaxing and repeating the exercise again several times. The scientist notes that this way of doing the exercise makes it safe for elderly people or those who are experiencing problems with the back. The fact is that muscles will inevitably get tired, the belly will sag, and this will create additional pressure on the lower back while doing the planking exercise for a long time.

McGill says that even young and physically fit people should not do a plank for more than a minute without a pause. According to Professor McGill, planking for a long time does not bring any benefit. The same opinion is shared by British physiotherapist Tim Allardyce. He noted that overweight people should perform the exercise propped on their knees rather than toes to avoid back pain.

Some experts also warn that doing a planking exercise for a long time can be dangerous for people with hypertension. The point is that a static posture contributes to increased pressure in the abdominal area, which in turn leads to a temporary rise in blood pressure. The latter can lead to a heart attack.

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