To plank or not to plank, that is the question.
So what is the answer? Well, the answer is..... it depends.
Planks are a popular core exercise in the fitness world and are done by many mums in the belief that planks will build their core strength and flatten their tummy after pregnancy. Unfortunately, this may not be the case and they could be doing more harm than good. First of all, let's move away from exercises being bad or good and think about what happens to our body during the exercise and what that means for the postnatal mum.
Planks create a lot of pressure within the abdomen. Especially if we are holding our breath during a plank! This pressure pushes down on our pelvic floor and our abdominal wall (a big problem for those with abdominal separation (diastasis recti). So this means we need to effectively manage this pressure in order to do a plank safely.
There are some people that should definitely avoid doing a traditional plank. If you have abdominal separation or prolapse there are lots of other core exercises we can get you doing that won't aggravate your condition. Remember to exercise for your weakest link.
So how do you know whether you are ready for planks? Here are some key things to look out for when doing a plank:
- If your tummy domes (bulges in a football shape down the centre line of your belly) when you are in a plank, stop. You may have abdominal separation or core weakness that you need to resolve before your abdominal wall can take the pressure generated by a plank.
- Can you keep breathing while in the plank position? Holding your breath will push your organs down onto your pelvic floor potentially worsening incontinence.
- In a plank hold, can you engage your pelvic floor and transverse abdominis while maintaining good breathing? If so, great. If not, you should probably consider modifying your plank until your strength improves. You may need a qualified trainer to assess you on this.
Join us on our closed group (Go Mum Community) where we will be looking at different ways to plank that take into consideration various postnatal conditions such as diastasis recti, carpel tunnel and pregnancy.
Christine is a pregnancy and postnatal trainer with a passion for pelvic floor and abdominal safe movement. Her interest in this area was sparked after her own battles with prolapse and diastasis.
If you have any questions about postnatal exercise or exercising with prolapse or abdominal separation feel free to contact Christine.