Back Pain and Planking Exercises

As a back specialist, a common question that I get from Physical Therapy patients in Jersey City & Elizabeth is:

Dr. Asha, I do planks all day long. Why do I still continue to get low back pain?

Well, the answer to that is very difficult and requires a medical professional to answer, particularly one who will not only look at the spine , but will also look at the muscles and their relationships to other parts of the body while a person is in motion. 

Even I recommend planking as an exercise for a stronger core.  But will it help you with back pain?

Even I recommend planking as an exercise for a stronger core.  But will it help you with back pain?

It is true, planks have been proven to be one of the most effective exercises for your lower back, providing increased recruitment of the smaller stabilizers in your back and thus effectively “exercising the area needed to stabilize your back”, but one of the remarks I have is

Is a plank really a functional position for your back?

how many times a day do you truly do any activity in a plank position?  The answers will probably surprise you!  Yes there are probably almost NO times in a day that you function in a planking position. 

               So how then do you work on your core while doing gym activities or home exercise activities?  This is answer will surprise you as well .  All you need to do to “turn on your core muscles” is to simply tuck in your belly button lightly towards your spine.  It should feel like you're tensing your ab muscles and "sucking in your stomach". 

               How hard do you hold it in?  Enough that you feel it but not enough that you can't talk intelligibly.  That’s right people, all you need is a light tuck throughout the day when doing anything or particularly when you are going to be in motion.  That can be just as effective an exercise in combination with any other core workout or gym workout you choose!  Stay active my friends!

elizabeth physical therapist asha koshy back pain sciatica

Dr. Asha Koshy is a Physical Therapist and co-owner of Complete Physical Rehabilitation in Jersey City and Elizabeth, NJ. 

She is a McKenzie certified back pain Physical Therapist specialist and also specializes in treating Vestibular conditions relating to vertigo, dizziness, and other balance disorders.