I get asked this question all the time, are planks safe during pregnancy? Can I do planks with diastasis recti? So to plank or not to plank, is a very big question especially if we are discussing diastasis recti.
First, I LOVE planks!
Second, you must know when your body is ready to do planks, during pregnancy, postpartum or anytime really…
Here are some easy guidelines to follow:
- Do you have diastasis recti? (if you aren’t sure read this) Having diastasis recti isn’t an automatic “no” (unless you’re pregnant and have diastasis), it’s a “maybe”. It really depends on your answers to the next 3 questions and be sure to read this entire post too.
- Can you connect your deep core muscles? (not sure what they are check out this post) You must be able to have at least a light deep core connection.
- Do you see any “coning” of your belly? You must avoid this or you may be causing more damage to your abdominals and even low back.
- Can you feel your abdominals connect near your ribcage and your lower abdominal area? If all you feel is pain in your low back then you need to do other simpler exercises for now and give your body more time.
Those are some major guidelines that can easily tell you if you should be doing planks or you should be doing easier yet effective exercises such as:
More exercises to be posted so be sure you’re a part of the Knocked Up Fitness community and sign up here!
Here is my favorite plank exercise “Plank Slides”. I do love these and teach these to a lot of clients, even my clients with diastasis recti (you just gasped – I know!) but let me tell you why. For starters I would never recommend doing these plank slides in those first sessions postpartum (diastasis or not), you really do need to allow your body time to heal. However I love, love, love these for strengthening those deep core muscles once your body is ready.
That is the KEY to planks, your body must be ready… and I recommend starting with plank slides over holding a static plank. I find moving in the plank position to be a very effective deep core exercise and great for getting those abs back.
*Always be sure your physician has cleared you to exercise before beginning any exercise programs*
- Begin in a full plank position on forearms and toes. Press legs together to help engage your pelvic floor (do a kegel), transverse abdominals (think lower belly) and intercostals (think “ribs) while also pulling up on the quads (your thighs).
- Exhale while moving your body forward staying in a plank position.
- Inhale while moving your body back. (Focus on stretching the calves in the backward movement).
- Modify: Switch out any plank exercises for a modified plank on forearms and knees or stick with those easier exercises mentioned above until your body is ready.
Watch for any bulging of your abdominals while in a plank position, note the difference in extra lose skin hanging vs. a good flat fascial/muscle connection across your lower belly. The extra skin is inevitable and will decrease will time, just be sure that if you notice any of your abdominal area hanging towards that ground that it is in deed skin and not your abdominals bulging towards the ground.
Be sure to follow those guidelines above to determine if planks are right for you right now. And if your body isn’t ready today it’s not a forever “no” it’s just a “not ready yet” but “someday”. So hang in there and keep strengthening those deep core muscles with more appropriate pregnancy and beyond baby exercises, workouts and programs.
One lasting thing: Please share this article with your girlfriends. I’ve talked with so many mom’s after pregnancy who had been doing exercises they later learned they should have skipped. While some women can safely do planks their entire pregnancy some should skip those and do easier core exercises as listed above. Exercise during pregnancy has so many wonderful benefits but being educated on what exercises are best, specifically core exercises can make a big impact on women during their years of having babies and beyond.