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How to Do a Plank for Back Pain Relief

Learn how to do planks from physical therapist Eric Sampson in this Howcast video.


All right, I want to spend a couple of minutes now talking about an exercise called The Plank.

The Plank is an exercise used quite commonly in a yoga class and other gym exercise classes. But it's really a big popular exercise in the physical therapy world, too. The best part about a plank is that we're going to be strengthening the core and the back, but we're holding the spine in a neutral position, so there's very little forces in one direction or the other on the tissue that's probably injured.

Despite that, I would not recommend these plank exercises in terms of trying to treat a back problem. You would utilize it more for rehabilitation. In other words, the symptoms have been under control for a few days or longer and now we're moving on to a strengthening exercise.

And so a plank is an exercise where you're going up on your elbows and on your toes and you're trying to hold the position. There's very little movement but by holding this position, you are using your core and your back quite a bit, as well as your leg muscles, like your quads, to hold yourself up.

So come on back down. And as you can see, the exercise is done in a neutral position. So the patient is holding, one more time, come on up, holding a pose and there's very little movement at all. And if you hold it for long enough, you will eventually start to feel the fatigue in the stomach muscles as well as the back.

It's a great exercise in the clinic... and come on back down one more time... and what's great about it is that you can really move on from a plank to things a little bit harder without changing a whole lot. So just by simply coming up onto your hands, on your elbows, sorry, and picking up a foot at the same time, now you're really focusing on one side quite a bit. Let's say they have an injury on that side. Switch to the other side. And the same thing over here as well, you're switching to the other side, more force over on that side increases the workload.

Come on back down, great. And this is what's called a plank. All right, why don't you pop up on your toes and elbows and hold? The goal is to hold for about 10 or 15 seconds, always building up your time as you're getting stronger. Okay, and come on back down. And now with this one if you can do the same thing, but now lift up a leg for about a count of five. So coming up, pick up a foot, two, three, four, five. And then switch, coming up, good, two, three, four, five, and rest.

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