Back pain is a common ailment that affects millions of people worldwide.
Whether due to poor posture, sitting for extended periods, or lifting heavy objects, back pain can significantly impact one’s quality of life. Fortunately, there are many ways to alleviate this pain, one of which is through exercise.
Specifically, plank and reach have proven to be effective in relieving back pain. In this article, we’ll explore 7 different plank and reach variations that can help you say goodbye to back pain for good.
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The Science Of Back Pain And Exercise As A Relief Mechanism
Back pain is one of the most common ailments that affect people of any age group. There are many reasons why back pain occurs. Such as poor posture, inactivity, injury, and muscle strain.
But, through scientific studies and research, we know that exercise is one of the most effective ways to relieve back pain. Not only does regular exercise strengthen the muscles in your back, but it also improves flexibility, reduces inflammation, and promotes overall health and well-being.
Studies show that exercises that target the core muscles of the abdomen, lower back, and hips are particularly effective in reducing back pain.
These exercises include planks, bridges, and pelvic tilts. That helps to improve the stability and strength of the core muscles. Additionally, low-impact exercises such as swimming, cycling, and walking can also help to relieve back pain.
It’s important to note that not all exercises are suitable for every individual. So, it’s essential to consult a medical professional before starting any exercise program, especially if you have a pre-existing condition or injury.
Want to unlock the secret to overcoming persistent back pain? Click here to take the FREE “Back Health Score” quiz and pave your path to relief today!
Variation 1: Classic Plank With Reach
The Classic Plank with Reach is a powerful exercise. It targets the entire body, especially the core muscles.
To perform this, begin by getting into a traditional plank position with your forearms on the ground and your body straight and parallel. Engage your core muscles and ensure your back remains flat throughout the exercise.
Next, reach your right arm in front of you, extending it straight from your shoulder. Hold for a few seconds, then return your arm to the starting position. Repeat this movement with your left arm. Ensure that your body remains stable and steady throughout the exercise.
This plank variation targets the muscles in your shoulders, arms, and back while also engaging your core muscles. It also improves your stability and balance. To increase the difficulty of the exercise, try holding a weight in your hand while performing the reach. You can also alternate between reaching forward and out to the side for a more targeted workout.
One of the primary benefits of this exercise is that it targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Including your abs, obliques, lower back, and shoulders. This means you can get a great full-body workout in just a few minutes. Additionally, this exercise is excellent for improving your overall balance and coordination.
Variation 3: Plank With Alternating Arm Reach
This exercise involves performing a plank while also adding an alternating arm movement.
To perform this exercise, start in a plank position with your core engaged, hands shoulder-width apart, and your feet hip-width apart. Slowly lift your right arm. Extend it forward until it is parallel to the ground while maintaining your balance. Lower the right arm and repeat the action with your left, keeping your core engaged throughout the exercise.
This exercise is an excellent way to improve your balance, core strength, and upper body stability. It targets the abs, lower back, shoulders, and arms muscles, making it a full-body workout.
Additionally, this exercise can be modified to increase or decrease the difficulty level. You can increase the movement’s duration or speed or add weights to the arms. Regular exercise practice can help improve posture, reduce the risk of injury, and enhance physical performance in daily activities and other workouts.
It is a versatile and challenging exercise. You engage your chest, shoulders, and back muscles by incorporating your arm into your plank position. That results in an overall improvement in your upper body strength. That provides many benefits beyond only working your abs.
One of the significant benefits of performing planks with alternating arms is that it helps to improve your balance and stability. This exercise requires you to maintain a steady and firm plank. That engages your core muscles and helps to improve your posture. Strong core muscles also help to protect your spine and improve your mobility.
Variation 2: Side Plank With Reach
This variation involves lifting the top leg to increase the challenge of the standard side plank. That makes it a more effective and intense workout.
To perform this exercise, start with a regular side plank position. Ensure that your elbow is directly beneath your shoulder and that your feet are in a stacked position.
Then, lift your top leg to hip height while reaching your arm toward the ceiling. Keep your core engaged and your hips lifted throughout the exercise. Pause briefly, then lower your leg and arm back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise on the other side, ensuring you perform the same repetitions.
Remember to start with a few repetitions and gradually increase as you get stronger. Maintaining proper form throughout the exercise is essential to avoid injury.
Variation 4: Plank With Leg Lift And Arm Reach
This exercise combines the traditional plank pose with a leg lift and arm reach to create a challenging workout for the entire body.
To do this exercise, get into the plank position with your forearms on the ground. Set your body in a straight line from your head to your heels. Engage your core muscles and hold this position for a few seconds.
Next, lift your right leg off the ground and reach your left arm forward. Keep your body stable and straight. Hold this pose for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.
Repeat this exercise with your left leg and right arm, alternating sides for 10-15 repetitions.
If this exercise is too difficult, you can modify it by supporting your body on your hands and knees instead of your forearms. Remember to keep your core muscles engaged and your body straight.
Performing this exercise helps to engage several muscle groups. Including the core, glutes, shoulders, and back muscles. The dynamic movement of the exercise requires high stability and control. That helps to improve balance and coordination.
Additionally, this exercise helps ton the muscles and burn body fat, making it an ideal addition to any fitness routine.
Moreover, plank with leg lift and arm reach strengthens the muscles and joints responsible for everyday activities like bending, lifting, and carrying. It reduces lower back pain by strengthening the back muscles and improving posture.
Variation 5: Reverse Plank With Arm Reach
Reverse Plank with Arm Reach is a great exercise for anyone looking to strengthen their core, improve their stability, and increase their range of motion.
To execute this exercise, start seated with your legs straight before you. Place your hands behind you, with your fingers pointing towards your feet. Press through your palms and lift your hips off the ground. Keep your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Engage your core and squeeze your glutes to maintain their position.
Next, reach your right arm towards the ceiling, twisting your torso slightly. Hold for a few seconds before lowering your arm and repeating on the other side.
To make the exercise more challenging, try to lift your opposite leg off the ground as you reach your arm up. Remember to breathe deeply throughout the movement. Keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears.
This exercise primarily works on the core, arms, and shoulders. It also strengthens the lower back and glutes. Doing reverse plank with arm reach can help improve posture, balance, and stability. The exercise also engages the muscles of the chest, making it an excellent workout for toning the upper body.
Additionally, this exercise is a great way to stretch the abdominal muscles. That can help alleviate lower back pain and reduce the risk of injury. It also improves overall flexibility and mobility in the body.
Variation 6: Bird Dog With Arm And Leg Reach
This exercise targets the core, glutes, and back muscles while improving balance and stability.
To perform this exercise, begin on all fores with your hands below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Engage your core and extend your left arm and right leg straight out until they align with your body. Hold for a few seconds before returning your arm and leg and repeating on the other side. Keep your hips level and avoid arching your back throughout the exercise.
Add repetitions or hold the position longer to increase the difficulty as you become more comfortable with this exercise.
To challenge yourself even further, try adding weights to your hands or ankles. It’s essential to maintain proper form to avoid any injury. So start with a manageable weight and progress slowly.
This exercise combines the traditional bird dog pose and the arm and leg reach. That involves reaching out to one arm and the opposite leg while in a plank position. Combining these two exercises, this exercise engages many muscles. Thus it provides numerous benefits to the body.
One of the main benefits of this exercise is that it improves core strength. The workout targets the muscles in the abs, lower back, and hips, essential for maintaining good posture and balance.
Additionally, the exercise helps to improve stability, flexibility, and mobility. That makes it an ideal workout for athletes, dancers, and fitness enthusiasts.
Variation 7: Forearm Plank With Hip Dip And Arm Reach
This plank and reach exercise variation is perfect for anyone who wants to strengthen their core and upper body muscles. It improves balance and flexibility and increases fitness levels.
To execute this exercise, start by assuming the plank position with your forearms on the ground, elbows directly under your shoulders, and feet hip-width apart. Engage your core and glutes, ensuring your hips align with your shoulders.
Dip your right hip towards the ground from this position, avoiding swaying your hips. Return to the starting position and repeat on the left side.
Add an arms reach to further challenge your balance and stability as you progress. Extend your right arm in front of you as you lower your right hip and return to the starting position as you bring your arm back. Repeat with your left arm and alternate sides.
To begin with, this exercise targets multiple muscle groups in the core, arms, and shoulders, helping to build strength and improve flexibility in these areas. Furthermore, it improves your posture, balance, and stability by engaging the muscles in the pelvic region.
Moreover, the forearm plank with hip dip and arm reach is also excellent for strengthening your back muscles. It encourages proper alignment and helps stretch and lengthen your back muscles while strengthening them. That can help to prevent back pain and injury.
Take Control Of Your Health With Plank And Reaches
Incorporating plank and reach variations into your routine can be a game-changer when relieving back pain. It helps improve overall strength, stability, and posture. These exercises target various muscle groups. Including the core, glutes, obliques, and back muscles.
By performing these exercises regularly, you can help prevent future episodes of back pain and improve your quality of life. We encourage you to try these 7 variations and see which ones work best for you.
Take control of your health today with plank and reach exercises. Remember to always check back health scores and listen to your body. Don’t let back pain hold you back any longer.
I look forward to meeting you again in my next post. Until then, stay healthy and live fully!
Dr. Lex Gonzales, PT, DPT has been a physical/physiotherapist for over 24 years and is an award-winning author and keynote speaker. On drlexgonzales.com he provides quality information and practical solutions you can use to improve your health and function.