If you have been reading my tiny space of the internet for sometime now, you might remember my struggles with some goals. Specifically planking. When I first started the plank, I could barely secure the move with good form for fifteen, twenty seconds tops. As I began to shed some weight and strengthen my entire body, I was able to increase my plank hold.
I hated being the weak, wobbly participant in boot camp class. While everyone else made one minute look like a breeze, I was struggling within the first ten seconds as I began to feel my core shake, droop and weaken. I would drop to my mat in defeat. Determined to get stronger with my planks, I practiced…and practiced. I did planks to start or end every workout. Twenty seconds became thirty. When I hit the one minute mark, I felt like celebrating! Never did I feel I would ever be able to hold this position for the entire minute. This was a proud moment.
As a minute became easier, I increased to a minute and a half. My best plank record is two minutes and seventeen seconds. This is where I am sitting at (or planking at) currently. My next goal was to go on to three minutes. Was being the operative word. Sometimes, goals have to be put on the back burner, or put aside permanently.
I have been very blessed and fortunate so far. I have been working out consistently for almost four years, and have not yet sustained an injury. I did experience the odd ache and pain here and there, which is natural as you age, but it was nothing that a little rest, heating pad and supplements couldn’t take care of. I saw firsthand others getting injured. Wrist pain putting people out of commission from heavy lifting, ankle twists putting Zumba class on the shelf forever. This scared me. I dreaded the thought of stopping my workouts and being active, and made sure I was careful and did a lot of restorative work. In fact, I was sure the plank would help me from getting hurt….until a few weeks ago.
I woke up as usual for work, and headed to the bathroom. Stepping out of bed, I felt a sharp pain in my left second toe (the toe beside the big toe.) As I continued walking the pain increased, making it difficult to put any pressure on this foot. Planking was out of the question. Way too much pressure and weight on the toe. So I stopped planking all together. Sure enough after a few days, the pain subsided. Now I am feeling no pain. Andy and I surmised that putting weight on my toes for that long over time was hurting my toe, specifically the toe where I must have been putting the most strain and weight. So my lofty goals of a three-minute plank must be abandoned. The very thing that I thought was keeping me injury-free was causing an injury.
This week since I am pain-free, I started to plank again, but hold the position for no longer than thirty seconds. I combine this with a boat pose. Some days I won’t plank at all, and just do the boat pose, or other exercises to keep my core strong. This revelation would have really disappointed me a few years ago and I would have seen it as a huge set back, but I am no longer hard on myself. If something is causing pain or discomfort, I don’t see myself as weak, I just don’t do it. I think I went in full force with planking because I felt like I was a failure with my unassisted pull-up goals, and overcompensated by doing something else that I found was a challenge.
So for now, it will have to be the boat pose. Health is about whatever I can do. Whatever floats your boat.
Do you know any moves for core beside planking I could try?