Add the Plank Challenge to Your Self-Care Plan

A woman demonstrates the plank exercise.

Your self-care is an important part of your health and well-being. Going forward, adding planks to your self-care will reward your posture, health, and massage work.

Consider the consistent self-care you have; Things that have become habitual, such as doing bodywork and walking daily, should also be carried over to your 2023 self-care. If it works, don’t change it.

In addition to your good habits, include the board as a self-care piece. Perform this self-care to make your massager’s job easier, improve your posture, and avoid back pain. This sounds like a great value for money product, right?

[Participate in a plank challenge with The Fit MT. Beginning Jan. 1, visit thefitmt.com/plank-challenge-jan-2023 to participate in a free plank-challenge event hosted by Angela Lehman.]

What is plank?

Plank is a steady exercise in which you keep your body in a straight line with your toes and elbows on. It’s harder than it looks and is the key to better massage work. Rather, force The plank ensures that your core muscles are the key to a better massage.

It takes strength in multiple muscle groups to do the plank successfully. These muscle groups are the muscle groups a massage therapist needs.

The board uses core muscles that are directly related to lower back strength and flexibility as the client lifts their limbs and reaches for specific strokes on the massage table.

The board also uses the shoulder, pectoralis, and serratus anterior muscles. This deltoid, pectoralis and anterior serratus stabilize the scapula and shoulder girdle while holding the plank position. Just like when massaging a client’s back, scapula it must remain stationary, and the anterior deltoid and pectoralis muscles support the arm or arms that cause the descent.

The neck stays neutral while holding the board and reinforces the stance with a neutral head while massaging.

After holding the board for 60 seconds, all these muscles will become stronger. The strength in these muscles makes your movements around the massage table more fluid, providing smooth transitions and improving your posture.

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I hope you have enjoyed the excellent benefits of the board for massage therapists. Next, let’s look at how to make the plank.

Board Challenge

The traditional plank is done on the toes and forearms. Start in a push-up position and lower your forearms so that your palms face each other in a closed fist and your elbows are directly under your shoulders.

Your body should be in a straight line from the toes to the crown of the head. Make sure your hips don’t sag (which happens when you’re tired) or rise above the imaginary line.

Start with the goal of holding this plank position for 20 seconds. Increase the amount of time you hold until you can hold it for one minute.

If you can repeat one minute of plank two to three times, you’re strong enough to do a great massage.

Many Plank Variations

For such a simple exercise, there are many variations that make the exercise more fun.

We’ve already mentioned the basic forearm board, which is the perfect place to start. While I love the baseboard, I advocate for massage therapists to do it on the fingers and toes (push up position), and here’s why.

Massage therapists need to stretch their hands and forearms and strengthen their wrists. Holding the board in your hand accomplishes both of these.

• Plank up/down

This plank starts on the hands and toes. The down phase begins by lowering one arm on the forearm and then the other arm. Return one arm at a time. Each time you “up”, count one rep.

• Wooden jacks

Wooden jacks are jumping jacks in the plank position. Your hands remain motionless as your feet jump together and apart like a jumping jack. This is good cardiovascular exercise as well as strength.

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• Wooden shoulder touches

Plank in a push-up position and alternately tap the opposite shoulder with one hand at a time. For one repetition, touch the left shoulder with your right hand and the right shoulder with your left hand.

• Side plank

This plank is done near the elbows and feet. The difference from the original plank is that your whole body is turned to the side, so instead of looking at the ground, you look out.

• Hip-bottom plank

Start on hands or arms in plank position. To start, lower and touch your right hip to the floor and return to the starting position. Then lower the left hip to the ground and return it to the neutral position. Repeat these hip dips in rhythm until you count 20 reps.

• Plank with toes on the ball

If you don’t have a physics ball handy, you can use a bench. The ball makes this exercise difficult because there is an element of balance and your core works harder to keep you in place.

• Inclined plank

Plan with your hands higher than your feet. You can put your hands on a table or bench. This will be easier, so if you need to get stronger before doing the traditional plank, use it to get started.

• Single arm, single leg plank

This plank is another good one for balance and getting the core muscles to work harder. You’ll start in a push-up board position and raise your right arm and left leg off the ground – alternately raising the opposite arm and leg at the same time. You don’t need to hold your arm and leg for more than a second before returning to all fours. You will feel the difficulty as soon as the arm and leg are lifted off the ground.

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Reverse Board for the Front of the Body

I saved the inverted plank for last because it’s a strength-enhancing plank and a wonderfully needed stretch for massage therapists’ forearms. This is the only board with the front of the body facing the sky.

This version of the board helps massage therapists open and stretch their shoulders, arms, and hands. It is done in the inverted push-up position.

Start by keeping the body in a straight line on the heels with the hands under the shoulders (rather than toes and hands like push-ups). Lift torso off the ground in a straight line with fingertips pointing to toes. Keeping your neck and head neutral, hold the inverted plank for 20 seconds until you are strong enough to hold out longer.

“Where Should I Plank?”

Board everywhere! The board can be made and landed on the ground wherever you have a flat surface. You can challenge yourself by planking in your office, home and gym. Try this exercise in your yoga studio, at a friend’s house, outside or inside.

The board doesn’t need any special equipment or clothing, so plank whenever you can. Plan between customers or while watching TV. board during commercials. Plank with your pets. Beware, dogs lick your face. Try the board in the park or at the beach.

Angela Lehman

about the author

Angela Lehman is a massage therapist and online educator for 25 years, promoting wellness and nutrition for massage therapists. She runs She the Fit MT. With a kinesiology degree specializing in nutrition, she teaches healthy eating, exercise and body mechanics to extend the careers of therapists. Visit massagemag.com to read The Fit MT column on topics including body mechanics, gut health, nutrition, exercise and more.



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