If you have been on a mission to lose excess fat, you have probably tried a bunch of weight-loss exercises. These exercises can be performed in the comfort of your own home, office or even a nearby park. Practically speaking, exercises which use your body weight are among the best options and are currently trending across all social media platforms. In fact, you have fitness experts performing them for your benefit. One of the popular exercises recommended for dashboard abs or a flat stomach are planks. Burning fat and toning your muscles based on your resistance power is the basic workout regime of the plank exercise. Known as an effective isometric exercise, a plank helps build power, upper body muscles and helps strengthen your core.

Benefits and Side-effects of Planks

How to Perform the Plank?

The basic plank needs you to hold your body above ground level horizontally, using your toes and palms as a support. Holding your body weight to strengthen your core- the plank can be performed in multiple formats. While the palm is used as support for the basic version, you can always use your elbows as a support too. Taking deep breathes while performing planks helps you sweat more and burns fat faster. Although gym instructors suggest that beginners perform it on alternate days for a minute in the sets, the steady body or regular gym goers are told to increase their time limit till they reach a constant five-minute performance grid.

How Does Performing Planks Benefit Your Body?

Planks have been a part of regular workout regimes for a very long time now. While the duration of the performance matters, doing it right is definitely a concern, as it can cause damage to your muscle tissues if done wrong. However, here are some of the best benefits of performing planks and making it a part of your daily routine:

How Does Performing Planks Benefit Your Body?

Planks are Beneficial in Building a Strong Core

The main area of focus in the plank is your midsection, which is your waistline and abdomen. Forming a bridge between your upper and lower body, planks are a good workout in case you intend on getting shredded or ripped to develop those dashboard abs. When you hold your body above ground level on just your elbows and toes, it puts pressure on your abdominal muscles and stomach, strengthening the core and burning the rigid fat. Heavy lifters love to perform the plank as it helps them fortify their upper body to lift weights. It also shapes your love handles by burning excess fat.

Benefits of Planks in Improving Your Posture

Considering planks are normally performed holding your body weight above ground level on all fours, which substitutes your knee for your toes, your spinal cord benefits the most as the body is stationary without hunching. It not only strengthens your back muscles but also straightens it. Three sets of the plank for one minute each daily are enough to improve your posture and give you the desired V-shape to your back. This helps burn excess back fat. It also helps make your back and spine immune to injuries as it strengthens the muscles to hold weights without causing any spine related injuries or catch.

Benefits of Planks in Improving Body Balance

Has it ever occurred to your mind why is it difficult for many to balance their own body weight when they stand on one leg? Well the basic answer to it all is their core is too weak. Planks not only strengthen the core but they also help you balance your body making it easy for you to perform art forms like ballet or even capoeira. Boosting your performance for athletics and other core strengthening exercises, balancing your body on a head stand too will not be a task if performing the planks regularly.

Performing Planks Can be Beneficial in Making Your Body Flexible

Stretching your muscles and your entire body and keeping your posture straight expands your back muscles, collarbones, and hamstring. Stretching normally makes your body flexible and braces up the elasticity of your muscles without exposing you to injury. Side planks make your body balance right and also stretch out your sides, which in turn, benefit your body to perform well during dancing and yoga.

Performing planks on a daily basis will ensure effective results. However, there are a number of physicians and physical instructors who detest the practice of planks as it can have adverse side effects on your body too.

Side Effects of Planks or Why Performing Planks Can be Bad for Your Body?

The myth that exercise is good is not completely true. If performed wrong, they can hurt you immensely, while also causing dislocation and causing internal injury permanently. If a plank is not performed correctly, it can cause grievous injury to your body.

Why Performing Planks Can Cause Breathing Issues?

Resting on the floor horizontally with just your palms/elbows and toes for support may strain your muscles and tighten it, resulting in diminution of oxygen levels. Contraction of the muscle tissues, which are thin and need oxygen to function, might face tension making it weak and could also cause breakage. Hence, a lot of physicians advise people not to perform the plank the way it is normally done but rather resting your body on all fours with your hands and knees as a support and then lifting one leg and breathing until your leg is straight (remember the dog-style leg extensions). This way, you not only allow your body to balance out the weight equally but also ensure that oxygen reaches the thin tissues of your muscles without it contracting and blocking it.

Planks can cause multiple breathing disorders leading to asthma, anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia as oxygen in your blood when transferred to the other parts of the body functions and grasps energy from it. In fact, clinching your stomach in and breathing is bad for the respiratory system. Hence, breathing is a must while working out.

How Performing Planks Can Exert Pressure on Your Joints?

Whenever you perform a plank, the intercostal muscles between the ribs and the pectoral muscles of the chest become tense. This exerts pressure on the costochondral joint — the part of the cartilage that joins the ribs to the breastbone.

When you lift up off the ground when performing planks, pressure is applied on the costochondral joint. When you lift your body off the floor, tremendous pressure is exerted on the rib and shoulder joints. Those suffering from loose ligaments or joint instability may not find this exercise comfortable as it could lead to inflammation.

If you suffer from a bad back, performing planks can prove to be fatal. Planks can compress the body in the same way press-up can affect the spine.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: November 23, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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