One of our massage therapists, Nicky McClean, is a big fan of planks. Planks are a great way to take the pressure off the back erector spine muscles by activating and training your core muscles (transverse abdominus) while at the same time helping to flatten your stomach and even shaping your waist, if you use side planks (see below).

There is a five minute (!!) plank challenge on Facebook but you probably won’t manage that on your first try. Set yourself weekly goals and once you’ve achieved them, set a new goal. Be consistent, maybe get your friends in on the challenge too, and you’ll be performing five minute planks in no time!

The first step is correct alignment: forearms on the floor, elbow joint at right angles with the shoulders, come up onto your toes with your legs and back creating one straight line, then tuck your chin into your chest. Use your core muscles to prevent you from sagging in the middle and avoid lifting your bottom! Try to maintain this position for as long as you can maintain the correct technique.

Nicky McClean performs a plank.

Nicky McClean performs a plank.

Nicky can now manage a five minute plank and to make it more of a challenge she breaks it down like this:

• One minute with both feet on the floor.

• One minute with the right foot on the ground and the left leg hooked over the right.

• One minute with the left foot on the ground and the right leg hooked over the left.

• One minute right side plank with left hand lifted up to the ceiling (this lifts the hips).

• One minute left side plank with right hand lifted up to the ceiling.

The beauty of planks is how easy it is to see improvement – just trying to add a few seconds every day can help towards that 5 minute plank.

Nicky is available on Tuesdays and alternate Saturdays. Click here to book online.