Riddled with chronic low back musculoskeletal pain since childhood, an orthopedic surgeon led me to core-strengthening exercises when I was about 16. I was lucky that early on, I learned my back health was tied to my abdominal muscles. Fortunately, as I built up my abs and glutes through my yoga practice, my pain subsided.
However, as a certified yoga therapist, I often see people of all ages that have not learned the importance of core strength to minimize low back issues. One in five Americans live with pain, and for many, the problem spot is in the back.
That's why a chapter in my book, “From the Boxing Ring to the Ashram,” features a physician who has spent decades researching chronic pain.
He encourages people whose diagnosis confirms no neurological issues, to build core strength. Unfortunately, people can strain their backs when their abs are not doing the work. The plank is one of the easiest, best, and most accessible core-building yoga poses.
Hands are placed directly under the shoulders. Heels pull back as the crown of the head floats forward. While perfect form is with a nice diagonal from the back of the head to the heels, if this is difficult there are modifications. Bend the knees and lower them to the ground, or bend the elbows and keep the forearms down.
As always, check with your medical practitioner or certified yoga therapist before beginning any new exercise regimen.