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Exercise of the Month: The Plank
This exercise has endless benefits for fitness and injury prevention. It not only builds core strength, but also works the shoulders, hamstrings, quadriceps and low back. It is an excellent exercise for the prevention of low back injuries, and gaining strength in many muscle groups including key stabilizing muscles.
Technique: Ensure that the elbows are directly under the shoulders (elbows form a 90 degree angle); low back is straight and not sagging; stomach is consciously tightened; eyes focused on the floor; leg muscles are tightened and knees are straight. The goal is to hold the plank for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
New Challenges: Below are advanced variations of the plank. Ensure you are able to hold the plank with proper technique for at least 1 minute before trying the next variations.
Plank Walk-Out (Intermediate Level)
Walk out until you feel the ball at your ankles and then walk back to starting position (this is equivalent to 1 repetition). Ensure the core is activated and your back does not sag through the exercise. Perform 2-3 sets of 5 repetitions and increase when able.
Mountain Climbers (Advanced Level)
Perform 2-3 sets of alternating legs 4 times.
Plank Superman (Advanced Level)
Try to hold for 3 seconds and ensure that you do not collapse or twist during the exercise. Repeat 3 times on each side as able.
Images provided with permission from www.physiotec.org