These days many of us are fighting droopy posture. It’s just they way things are going. Bending forward, looking down at our phones, paperwork, or computers, all put us in chronic droop. Hence the classic image above that illustrates what the tech age has done to us.
A key point here is that some of us are so used to doing this that we don’t even know what we are missing.
With good, upright posture, your muscles are working together at optimal pitch. On top of that, you don’t get so many aches and pains. You move better, enabling you to do more throughout your day with ease. You feel better. It’s all good.
Enter, the straight arm plank.
Here is one exercise that can help you turn things around. If done correctly, it will give you an awareness of what has been missing in your quest to stay upright.
Another bonus: This exercise can help you get ready to do another great exercise correctly, the push-up. The fun never stops, right? If you are curious about the many different ways to do push-ups, and how to get the most out of them, check out my blog, “The Push-Up: Not Just For Marines or Gym Rats” here.
In order to get the most out of your straight arm plank, there is a bit of Plank Prep. Taking the time to do this one move before your plank will make it easier to get it right. Plus, it will feel good.
So, here’s what you do:
Lie on your back on a mat or towel, feet on the floor, knees bent. Relax. Take both arms, keeping them straight, and reach straight up towards the ceiling (see below). You will be bringing your shoulder blades up as you do this. Then, letting gravity be your friend, and KEEPING YOUR ARMS STRAIGHT, drop your shoulder blades back down quickly, almost with a “klunk” (not shown). DO THIS 20 TIMES. Feel the back of your neck releasing as you bring your shoulder blades to the floor. When you are done, take a minute to imprint that position and the feeling of it.
Next, turn over and get ready to plank. Place both arms shoulder width apart or a little wider. Straighten out your body by coming off your knees (see below). Hold this position for 10-30 seconds. Repeat if you want to! Or put this into a workout.
Now, here’s some tweaks to make sure you get the most out of this exercise:
- Do not let your head drop or look at our feet. Look at the floor slightly ahead of you.
- Bring your shoulder blades back towards each other the way you did on the floor, and lock them there.
- Activate your abdominals by gently drawing your naval towards your spine. At the same time, make sure you are not sagging in the middle. Notice that you may not think of this or feel the need for it. So be deliberate here.
- Breathe normally. If you can get in the habit of breathing normally or regularly when you exercise, it makes each exercise more effective for you.
Take the time to do the Plank Prep and the tweaks. They will help you feel the difference between your business as usual, and what your muscles can be doing for you to stop the droop and get you on the path to moving better and having more energy.
P.S. If you can’t pull off a straight arm plank on the floor, you can use a kitchen counter or the back of a chair or couch. All the same tweaks apply.
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