8 Steps To Make Plank Safe In Postpartum

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Have you ever noticed that plank is one of those exercises that just shows up everywhere, in yoga classes, the cardio class at the gym; heck, we're pretty sure we've even seen plank thrown into a spinning class.

People will find a way to plank! It's the exercise everyone loves to hate.

But when it comes to postpartum recovery, plank falls somewhere in a grey zone rather than a definite DO. THIS. EXERCISE. NOW. "Grey area" is exactly why we created the Mama Reset.

Now, we totally get this can be a bit frustrating. Everywhere you look, you see mamas planking over their babies, planking with their kiddos on their backs, planking poolside and generally making us feel inadequate about our abs AND our regular old pool-less backyards.

You need to understand: the abdominal muscles have been under an incredible amount of pressure during pregnancy. The core is meant to withstand pregnancy + delivery, but it's not built to bounce back in the timeline our culture seems to expect. Things are stretched out. They're under hormonal influences which prevent them from healing quickly.

And healing that brain to core connection just takes time, mama.

Now if you're reading this and thinking "But I'm 5 years postpartum, this whole re-strengthening thing can't possibly apply to me. Surely I'm recovered and good to go!" Take a moment to think: did you really take the time to go back to basics and learn how to properly engage your core muscles and to rebuild your strength in a progressive manner? 

Or did you hop right into those Instagram workouts telling you to plank for 5 minutes?

Listen. We're not saying plank is a no-go forever. We want you to know that plank, while simple in its appearance, is a complex coordination of multiple muscle groups. Plank is an exercise you need to understand & do with intention, in a way that's right for you.

a safe + effective plank feels like: 

  • You can breathe freely throughout the exercise

  • You can feel a gentle "hugging in" of the low belly muscles (below your belly button)

  • You are not sucking in, but you also don't feel your belly is pushing outward or sinking toward the ground.

  • You can feel a gentle lift in the pelvic floor as you imagine your SITZ bones drawing together (The sitz bones are the bones on either side of the vagina.)

  • You don't feel downward pressure or a sense of bearing down in the pelvic floor

  • You don't feel your lower back is caving in or rounded toward the sky. Instead, you want a long spine with a slight dip in the low back.

the set up: 

  • Place your hands below your shoulders and press down firmly into the ground, feeling for a lift from under the arm pits.

  • Keep your neck relaxed, chin slightly tucked toward your chest and shoulders away from your ears.

  • Feel your glutes and quad muscles engage to help support you through the exercise.

  • Imagine a bucket of water on your low back and think of lifting up to support it rather than allowing your body to sink and drop under the weight.

So whether you're newly postpartum or your kiddos are in school already, it's important to take the time to check in and see if the core exercises you're doing are right for you. The best programs and coaching offer options for every level, not just a "plank or no plank" approach.

find the right plank for you

Download this step-by-step with photos for each type of plank progression -- from absolute beginner, or dealing with diastasis recti + pelvic floor dysfunction, to Instagram plank queen! 

Print this handy-dandy illustrated chart and work your way up from plank stage #1 through #8.

Who know there were so many ways to make a plank work for YOUR body? 

And one last thing, as always, we highly recommend you consult with a pelvic health physiotherapist to help you assess exactly what's happening internally with your core muscles. 

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