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Let's Learn to Plank

I wanted to share with you all a really great exercise to mobilize the spine: The Cow and Cat.  We will also take what we learn here into our plank positions!


There are two really important things to remember during these exercises in order to keep your spine healthy: support and stabilization


Too many planks are done wrong in this world. This makes me so so very very sad! Wrong meaning without actually using our muscles. Just by relying on our skeleton to hold us up. Usually this way the lumbar vertebrae are getting all the load and suffer.


Let me teach you how to properly stabilize your core, so all your planks in the future will be efficient and have no side effects.





  ... on your hands and knees. Make sure your knees are underneath your hips, and your wrists are underneath your shoulders. Check that your thighs and arms are perfectly perpendicular to the floor.


We will begin here with a cow and cat...


  • First draw the shoulders back and away from the ears. Really pull them back,   especially the outer arm pits because when you do that, you feel the deep    muscles around the shoulder area are working even harder.

  • Draw the chest and sternum bone forward as you look a little bit forward as  well.

  • If your neck allows you to you may look up.

  • Then try to press your shoulder blades against your chest.

  • On the exhalation, drop your head, separate your shoulder blades and pull  your belly in and up.

  • Come back into the cow stretch with shoulders back and chest forward.

  • On the inhale keep the mid back fairly neutral, relax and really try to bring the backbend into the upper back.


A lot of times we just sink into the mid and lower back but this part is already very mobile and flexible.


  • During the backbend imagine pressing your shoulder blades into the chest, bring the your heart further forward. Try to feel the muscles in between the shoulder blades contract by pulling up more and keeping your lower and mid back relaxed without compressing it.

  • Drop your head for cat stretch as you exhale and draw your tailbone all the way down and pubic bone forward, then draw your shoulders and outer armpits back for cow stretch.

  • Come into neutral position to relax.


Utilizing these tips in planking


When we step into the plank position we want to keep the upper back in a cow stretch and bring the lower back into a little bit of a cat stretch. It is essentially both positions in one pose that may seem to be contradicting but we will figure it out. 


  • Step the feet back, hip distance apart

  • Shoulders still over the wrists


Often in this position we may see the bum lift up a bit too high, sag too low or drop the head as compensation patterns.


  • Aim to bring the chest forward and draw your arms back. This should be lot of  work for the arms and shoulders.

  • Look about six or so inches in front of the fingertips.

  • Use the lower body and back to pull your tailbone down to the floor and pull your lower belly in.


Imagine you are doing the cat stretch but don't let the rounding come into the upper back and don't let the backbend come into the lower back. 



I hope this was informative and will help you during your Pilates practice! Have a pilaterific day!