3 BENEFITS OF THE PILATES SIDE PLANK EXERCISE:
The Pilates Side Plank Exercise is fabulous to help improve balance to support the body, strengthen the shoulders, and enhance lateral torso control.
Fine-tuning your mind and body during exercise is essential to improve health. Paying attention to your technique to properly execute the exercise is key to get optimal benefits. The side bend helps improve shoulder strength, but it can also cause shoulder pain or injury if done improperly. Functional shoulder mechanics during the transition to lift up into the Side Plank and to lower the body back down to the mat to avoid unnecessary injuries is as important as the actual exercise.
The Side Plank exercise is one of the original Pilates Matwork exercises that Joseph Pilates describes in his book Return to Life. In Return to Life, the exercise is also known as The Side Bend.
HOW TO EXECUTE A SAFE AND EFFECTIVE SIDE PLANK
Start seated on the right hip with the knees slightly bent. Preferably the legs are stacked on top of each other, but to assist with balance, take the feet hip width apart. If the top leg is forward, it will help keep the hips stacked.
Weight is on the right arm with the fingers pointing out away from the body
Be sure the elbow is bent, and the shoulder is pulling down away from the ear, supporting underneath the arm.
Left arm is resting along the left side of the body.
Eyes look straight ahead.
The Side Plank Exercise:
Inhale and pull down under the shoulder to begin lifting the ribcage, hips, and thighs up off the mat to support on the hand and side of the right foot.
The non-supporting arm can assist by reaching up to the ceiling to create a T-shape. Having both arms reach away from center helps to spread the shoulder blades and activate the serratus and lat muscles to support the lifted body position.
Along with the outer hip muscles, core, and, upper body strength, the Pelvic Floor is important to help torso stability.
Hold and breathe.
To lower the body down, BEND THE ELBOW and PULL THE SHOULDER DOWN first, then begin lowering the hip to the mat. If the arm stays straight and the shoulder goes up while the hip goes down, you are creating the potential for a serious shoulder injury!
A FEW MORE THOUGHTS ABOUT PRACTICING THE PILATES SIDE BEND EXERCISE
Following Joseph Pilates' Return to Life, the Side Bend exercise traditionally is exercise number 28 of the 34 exercises being introduced. This means the body should be well warmed up before doing the Side Plank exercise. Doing some ab work, arm and shoulder exercises, and hip & leg work, is fundamental before doing the Side Plank exercise.
Also, there can be quite a lot of stress on your hands, wrists, and shoulders when you're balancing on one arm. By doing push-ups first, or a few regular front planks, together with other exercises to warm up the whole body, you are ensured that you and your body are already prepared to take the challenge of performing a great and effective Side Bend.