Are you looking for prolapse-friendly abdominal core exercises?
Have you considered the modified Side Plank (or Side Bridge) for strengthening your core and trimming your waist?
Side Plank is a pelvic floor friendly core abdominal exercise.
You may wish to consider including this core exercise in your regular core workout.
Read on to learn about:
- Benefits of Side Plank
- Modified Side Plank technique with prolapse
- Common mistakes to avoid
- Side Plank benefits over Forward Plank for women with prolapse
- Core muscles trained with Side Plank
- How to progress Side Plank
- When to avoid or modify Side Plank
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International best selling prolapse exercise guide for women with prolapse and after prolapse surgery.
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- Avoid unsafe exercises
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- Strengthen your core
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Benefits of Side Plank
Side Plank is an core exercise that involves raising the trunk off the ground from side lying. This exercise trains and strengthens the core muscles that surround the trunk including the abdominal and spinal muscles.
Avoids Pelvic Floor Overload
Some abdominal core exercises are unsafe for women with pelvic organ prolapse.
The Side Plank can provide a core strengthening option for women with prolapse problems.
Strengthens & Protects the Spine
This exercise trains the core muscles that support the hips, spine and pelvis. It avoids overloading the spinal joints and discs by keeping the spine in a straight (neutral) position.
Flattens & Trims the Abdomen
Side Plank trains the muscles that firm and trim the appearance of the abdomen and waist.
Modified Side Plank Technique With Prolapse
- Start lying on your right side with your hips and knees bent
- Position your bent right elbow directly beneath your right shoulder (shown below)
- Contract your deep abdominal muscles using the gentle abdominal indraw technique
- Raise your body bearing your weight through your right forearm and lower leg (shown below)
- Direct your left hip towards the ceiling (avoid rolling your hips forward)
- Breathe out as you raise your body
- Breathe normally during the exercise
- Stay strong through your right shoulder girdle
- Keep your head and neck approximately in line with your spine
- Lower your body back into side lying
Aim for a sustained hold with the hips elevated for up to 10 seconds at a time.
Repeat this exercise starting out lying on the left side.
Side Plank Benefits Over Forward Plank for Women With Prolapse
Many women report that Side Plank places less pressure on the pelvic floor when compared with Forward Plank and abdominal curl exercises.
Side Plank probably generates less overall core muscle activation compared with the Forward Plank which may translate to less pressure and load on the pelvic floor.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
- Elbow incorrectly positioned (too far towards the head)
- Hips sagging during the exercise
- Drawing the abdominal muscles in too strongly
- Breath holding during the exercise
- Holding the head and neck on a sharp angle
How to Progress Side Plank
Side Plank Kneeling exercise can be readily progressed.
1. Side Plank With Arm Raise
Raise your upper arm towards the ceiling with your palm facing forwards, keeping your hips raised towards the ceiling (shown below)
2. Side Plank With Arm and Leg Raise
Raise your upper arm and leg towards the ceiling keeping your hips raised throughout (shown below)
Core Muscles Trained by Side Plank
Abdominal muscles – Rectus abdominis, Obliques and Transverse Abdominis (muscles at the front and sides or the abdomen and waist)
Back muscles – Quadratus Lumborum and Erector Spinae (muscles either side of the spine and across the lower back)1
Why Kneeling Plank is Preferable to Full Plank With a Prolapse
Side Plank creates less load on pelvic floor when performed kneeling when compared with weight supported through feet. The core muscle activation is reduced in the kneeling compared with the Full Side Plank position.2 This kneeling technique will likely generate less pressure within the abdomen which reduces the load on the pelvic floor.
Some women can progress from kneeling to weight bearing through the feet. In addition to overloading the pelvic floor, progressing to Full Side Plank too quickly can overload the shoulder or increase pressure through pubic symphysis and aggravate pelvic instability problems.
When to Avoid or Modify Side Plank
Avoid Side Plank if your shoulders are prone to injury. Supporting the weight of your body through your shoulder can overload and strain shoulder tissues.
If you’re overweight you may find that supporting your body weight through your shoulder creates shoulder discomfort.
An alternative modification to Side Plank is raising both legs sideways off the ground from a head down, side lying position (arms folded across the chest).
Side Plank is often a great alternative to more intense core abdominal exercises for women with prolapse problems.
- Correct technique is important for avoiding injury
- Avoid Side Plank if you’re prone to shoulder problems.
1 McGill, S. Juker, D. and Kropf, P.(1996).Quantitative intramuscular myoelectric activity of quadratus lumborum during a wide variety of tasks. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 1996 Apr; 11(3):170-172.
2 Escamilia, R. et al. (2016). Muscle Activation Among Supine, Prone, and Side Position Exercises With and Without a Swiss Ball. Sports Health. 2016 Jul; 8(4): 372–379.