Many people ask questions about planking and whether it is useful or not or for how long people can do this.
If you look at planking as something that can give you strength and extra stability and help protect your spine, you are probably wasting your time. And if you are doing planking because you want to build some beach body “6-pack” muscles, then it’s probably appropriate.
One of the benefits of exercise is to practice the movements required to effectively move our bodies through space. Our spine is a dynamic structure. It moves all day. We build amazing circuts in our brain to stabilyse our spine so that we dont even have to think about it. This can be called dynamic reflex stabilization. Getting good at this is how to never injure your spine again.
It is also during movement that we tend to injure it. Through dynamic exercise we can build faster, more efficient pathways in our brain that control and finetune our movements. These are the pathways that should be built and streamlined as much as possible from the point of view of dynamic reflex stabilization. This is what a “strong core” is. We should think of this as a co-ordinated core rather than a strong core.
Exercises to help your spine stabilize
Neither of these are using functioning muscles. Instead, I would recommend exercises like:
- Turkish get-up
This is one of the best. It requires full contraction of the muscles and your body is getting a full workout.
Generations ago, when people spend most of their days walking, they had spines used to movements on a regular basis. Walking is a fantastic exercise for preventing injury and exactally what our spine is designed for.
With exercise, you want to use your full range of motion every day. This is so the joints in your spine can move and adjust without experiencing an unnecessary injury from sudden movement or stresses in directions your spine isn’t accustomed to.
Exercises like planking can be used as part of a complete fitness program, but just be aware that it’s an exercise designed for building muscles rather than building spine health.