By the way, how are your six-pack abs?  You certainly don’t need washboard definition, but bear in mind that having a weak rectus abdominis is like breaking the legs off a table – no support from below for what’s above.  When Plank orients your lumbar vertebrae over your R.A., those bones, the spongy discs they surround and the delicate adjacent tissues should all have a firm foundation.  I invite you to watch the accompanying YouTube video to this article.  I offer an unusual variation of the Yoga Tune Up® Coreso Leg Lifts that tones and stretches the iliopsoas while reinforcing the R.A.’s role as a spinal stabilizer.  You’ll also get your hip extensors and deeper abdominal muscles involved.  Once you get this area in the groove, your lower back will be most appreciative in Plank.

The author demonstrating proper alignment for a plank pose that supports the lumbar spine.

It might also be helpful to focus on deep breathing in Plank.  You won’t be able to breathe as fully as you would in a more restful pose because the activated core muscles will slightly inhibit the diaphragm’s movement.  But breathing to the fullest extent possible in this pose will soften that toughened crossroads of the psoas major and diaphragm on your first two lumbar bones.

If you do your level best to find that friendlier alignment in your lower back but just aren’t able to access it the first ten or one hundred attempts, I suggest lifting the hips to slightly higher-than-shoulders level until you are sufficiently strong to carry your own load (this would appear to be halfway between Downward-Facing Dog and Plank).

As an accompaniment to this blog, I direct you to the words of my Yoga Tune Up® colleague Maura Barclay, who wrote an insightful primer on keeping the shoulders safe in transitioning from Plank to Yogic Push-Up, possibly the most ubiquitous movement in yoga.

Read part 1 of this article.

Check out Coregeous to strengthern your core.

Learn about Yoga Tune Up at home.

Claiborne Davis

Claiborne Davis, RYT, is a Certified Yoga Tune Up® Instructor in New Orleans. He appreciates the full-body maintenance Yoga Tune Up® provides as an antidote to muscular imbalances from years of swinging a tennis racquet and from lifting weights. A former television news producer, he appreciates the physical and mental release yoga offers as a counter to high-stress work. Claiborne teaches publicly and privately.

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aniela eva

My lower abdominals are weak and I am looking forward to trying out these exercises! Thank you

Jennifer Kruidbos

Thanks! This is so helpful! I am learning that my core is weak, which I think is causing instability in my pelvis which leads to knee pain. I love working with bands so this exercise will become part of my daily routine! I know my clients will love it as well!

Emilie Goldstein Mikulla

Thanks for this post. I see this banana back all the time in my classes. Sometimes students have poor form, or they’re not breathing properly and engagement the tubular core. But I love your explanation that a tight, weak or tight and weak Psoas, proximally, could be the culprit – I’m going to address this in my class. I also love the use of the therabands – it reminds me of work on the Reformer, very creative, and efficient! Thanks!

Leslie Van Schaack

what I most appreciate about this post is the comment on how important the deep breathing is even though it is more difficult w/ RA contraction. I am coming into a new awareness and appreciation of the benefits of a healthy diaphragm and the connection btw the diaphragm and psoas. As someone who feels like her psoas is a tight, thick rubber band I am going to incorporate more work on stretching out my diaphragm to help w/ this especially in poses that contract the front of the body like plank. And I will definitely try out the rubber band… Read more »

Jimmy

nice post around plank. I read both blog posts on it that you wrote, I see it all the time as well in classes. I like your suggestion to strengthen the psosas as well yo! 🙂 Will check out your other blogs throughout the training-solid information here.

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Alex Ellis

Wow! Such a great idea to include the theraband to provide some resistance. Also makes the feet work a little bit too =) So man times the lower back lordosis is overlooked in planks. Can’t wait to try this!

Miei

Plank seems a simple basic pose.. But I want to do it right! Now I could have new info from your article! Hip extensors & deeper abdominal muscles… This will be a harder pose than it used to be to me before. Thanks!

Gloria

Love your use of the therabands! We were having a discussion the other day about how most athletes — yogis especially, probably have over stretched their psoas muscles and this would be an awesome way to strengthen them back up. The resistance of the bands giving the glutes a workout is a nice bonus!

Jocelyn Larson

This is a really great exerciseal that can easily be used with many populations, I really like that.. It is important to think about all parts of the body when you find imbalances because they are not always coming from where you expect it, in this case the psoas. I also think that it is important to think about populations when thinking about plank pose. Many clients lack the strength in their back and core to hold themselves in the proper position and need cues to learn how to properly engage these muscles. Yoga tuneups plank with Serraus is a… Read more »

Lana

This is a very interesting strengthener! I just tried it and it definitely works quite a few muscle groups. I am not sure if my psoas major is too tight or too weak. Is there another test to make this determination? I guess Orlena is asking a similar quesiton.

Orlena Lackenbauer

Brilliant – I never thought to use the Therabands on the feet to do any open chain work. I tried it – and it sure does fire up the psoas and quads of the lifted leg. I like the fact that the glutes are involved on the other leg. I wonder if by doing any leg flexion under tension might increase tightness in the Psoas. … How do you determine if the muscle is tight ( say from too much bicycling) or weak ( from too much sitting?) . How would they show up differently and how would that compare… Read more »