For the athlete, this pose is particularly important for developing wrist integrity. Wrist integrity is crucial for all athletes. Soccer players are in constant danger of falling on their wrists. Wrist power is crucial for racket sport athletes and offensive linemen, who depend of wrist strength for the success and longevity of their careers. Every athlete should be able to open their wrist to the 90 degree angle to avoid future injury and wear. Holding plank will accomplish that goal. Having your body in the plank pose with your knees off the floor gives your body weight the ability to build strength while increasing flexibility.
There are a few variations to enhance the athletes' performance. One variation is plank pose on the forearms. Instead of keeping wrists under the shoulders, have your elbows under and shoulders width apart. This variation will open an athlete's shoulder joint. The full expression of the pose is to have the forearms parallel, which only happens if the shoulder joint is clean and open. Holding forearm plank is a great abdominal and shoulder strengthener.
The other variation in this pose to further the flexibility of wrists is wrist turns. These take practice. While holding plank, turn your hands around one at a time until you can turn each wrist 180 degrees. Hold for several breaths returning the first hand to neutral position and then the second hand. It is important to make sure the turning hands wrists are still under the shoulder at 90 degrees. Watch how much heat you create in the body by holding wrist turn variation.
Although you should always consult your physician and research a properly-trained teacher before starting a yoga practice, there are a few instances where you should avoid this pose entirely:
- If you have a history of carpal tunnel syndrome
- If you have a history of degenerative low back problems.
NOTE: Even with a history of carpal tunnel syndrome, plank pose can help the recovery of carpal tunnel syndrome under the supervision of a highly qualified yoga teacher.
Have fun exploring this pose and learning about of your body.
Gwen Lawrence has been a practicing fitness professional since 1990. Her current practice includes private yoga training, class instruction and her sport-specific Power Yoga for Sports training program www.poweryogaforsports.com. Gwen's unique combination of dance, massage and yoga training experience, coupled with her extensive knowledge of anatomy, nutrition and homeopathy, provide her clients, class participants and athletes with overwhelming benefits. Gwen is the yoga instructor for several New York Yankees baseball players, team yoga instructor for the New York Giants, New York Knicks, New York Red Bulls, and the Pace University baseball team; as well as many youth teams in a variety of sports. She is also the official spokesperson for AFRIN PureSea. Visit her website at www.poweryogaforsports.com