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June 2011 Issue
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Rock solid abs

The Plank

Enjoying a tramp with a heavy pack on your back is not just about having a strong back. To ensure you can last the distance and avoid lower back pain, you need to focus on your core stability muscles.

Many runners complain about lower back pain which, surprisingly to them, in most cases is because they have weak abdominal muscles rather than a weak back. This is just as relevant for trampers. For this reason it is a good idea to work on your stomach muscles, as they are the key to giving you good stability through your middle.

The plank

Lie face down on the ground and push your body off the floor so you are resting on your toes and forearms with your shoulders directly above your elbows. Keep your back flat and in a straight line from your head to your heels. Tilt your pelvis forward and contract your tummy muscles so your bottom doesn’t stick up in the air. Whatever you do, don’t hold your breath.

Hold for as long as you can, starting with 20 seconds at a time building up to the point where you can hold the position for several minutes.

Side Plank

Side Plank

Lie on the floor on your side, legs in line with the rest of your body and one leg on top of the other. Point your toes forward and raise your hip off the ground so the only parts of your body touching the ground are your lower foot, forearm and palm of that hand. Keep your shoulder closest to the floor directly above your elbow and your forearm perpendicular to your body. Rest your other arm on your hip and slightly tilt that hip forward to help keep your balance.

Hold your body in a nice straight line, starting with 20 seconds at a time building up to a point where you can hold the position for several minutes. Swop sides and hold for the same period of time.

The Hover

The Hover

Sitting on a chair, bench or steps, place your hands close to and beside your hips, palms down and fingers facing forward. Press your weight down through you hands until your arms are straight, lifting your bottom off the seat and your feet off the ground. Hold that position for as long as you can. Start with short periods of time and build up each time you do the exercise.

Tip: Don’t be put off if you struggle to hold yourself steady with these exercises, you’ll get there eventually. Try to increase the length of time you hold yourself up each time you do them.

– Deb Hurdle is the manager for recreation at SPARC