I get asked with great frequency if planks are safe postpartum, while pregnant and/or with diastasis recti. My answer is annoyingly vague. Watch this to understand why. If you can do a plank and maintain that tensile strength throughout the movement, then plank away. However, if you are newly postpartum, pregnant and/or have diastasis recti, there is a pretty good chance that you will have trouble planking while maintaining core integrity. Why? Well, gravity is a bitch my friends. You already know this from your post-breastfeeding boobs, but we are talking about planks here.
Your linea alba, the connective tissue that runs between your “six-pack” abs gets mega stretched during pregnancy. Think of it like a rubber band. If you stretch the shit out of it, it never quite bounces back. You have a floppy and kind of useless rubber band. Same goes for your connective tissue. Thanks, kids. Remember that our core protects our innards. So if we are in a prone (belly down) or even a quadruped position (all fours), all our innards are pushing up against our abdominal cavity. If your rubber band isn’t nice and taught, keeping those innards in, it can be really challenging to get those “corset abs”, more formally called the transverse abdominis (TA) muscles, firing.
Wall planks allow you to tell gravity to go screw itself–a little bit anyway. You can get the same great challenge on your core, but without the strain of gravity.
Here are a few reminders for the wall plank:
- Set your core before you go. Inhale to fill belly with air, and exhale to engage core. Watch this video and this one, for more information on core engagement (seriously, this is an important step).
- The closer your feet are to the wall, the easier the movement. You choose how challenging you need it to be. Listen to your body. It is smarter than you. Mine keeps reminding me of this all the time!
- If you can maintain core engagement and are ready for more challenge, practice slowly lifting one arm at a time. Then try to bend your knee. A real stud? Lift opposite arm and leg.
- If at any time you lose that core connection, abort…regroup…and go again!
And check out this video on the wall plank I made awhile back with my rad pelvic floor physical therapist, Diana at Success Physical Therapy.