In the last article, I showed you two exercises to work your front abdominal muscles and your back muscles (at the same time!) These exercises for your core are superior to other exercises because they allow you to keep your spine neutral, which is the very best thing for firefighters to do since you need to spare your spine from undue damaging forces (that occur when bending).
The two simple exercises that I showed last week did not work the side abdominal muscles – the obliques, which are an important part of the core. So today’s exercise is one that targets them.
Many people think they need to twist to work their obliques. Not only is that not true, it’s hazardous. The vertebral joints in the low back only have 5 degrees of rotation capability! So forcing a lot of rotation causes stress to the tissues in the lumbar spine. Some people might even get relief from back pain if they stop doing extreme rotation movements.
A side plank is a great way to work the obliques, which is shown in the picture above. On your side, you will rest on either your elbow or hand and lift your hips up to the ceiling like there is a string pulling on them.
One great thing about these is that there are many levels of side planks. The first level is to start with one knee acting as a kickstand. Once you are stable you can do them with your feet, resting on your elbow (as pictured). The most advanced is on the feet and hand.
Photo Courtesy Karlie Moore