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Plank Exercise During Pregnancy

By Morgan Rush ; Updated June 13, 2017

Despite other restrictions, pregnant women can and should still exercise, as it provides the body with opportunities to strengthen, release endorphins and work the heart and lungs. However, some modifications should be made during pregnancy to ensure the health of the mother and baby. If you have practiced plank exercises prior to becoming pregnant, continuing to perform them should not be a problem. Before starting a workout routine, talk with your doctor to make sure it’s safe.

Understanding Traditional Plank

In traditional plank pose, you kneel on all fours with your wrists stacked directly beneath your shoulders and your knees directly beneath your hips, according to “Yoga Journal," and shins and feet extend behind you. Step back with your right foot and then your left foot, pressing your toes firmly into the ground. Keep your neck in neutral, breathing deeply as you hold the pose for three to five breaths. Take a break and repeat the exercise as desired.

Modifying for Pregnancy

Your body changes during pregnancy, making some exercises challenging to complete. Some women feel more flexible during pregnancy, which increases the risk that you could hyperextend through your elbows and potentially damage your wrists. If your wrists feel vulnerable, you can drop one or both knees while in plank to reduce pressure through your shoulders and wrists. Alternately, you can keep your legs extended but press your forearms firmly into the floor. As your child develops and your abdomen extends, this modification could also become more difficult, however.

Modifying Plank with Props

During your pregnancy, plank pose might become more comfortable when supported with props. For example, you can perform a vertical plank pose -- still benefiting your core, shoulders and back -- with the help of a tree or wall, according to prenatal yoga instructor Marie-Claude Martel, who runs the yoga website, Pregnancy Yoga Resource. Stand close to a wall and press both palms firmly into it. Retract through your shoulders, relaxing them away from your ears while drawing your scapula closer together along your back. Keep your core engaged and breathe deeply, holding for three to five breaths and repeating as desired.

Modifications for Side Plank

Side plank pose is a powerful exercise to develop shoulder, arm and side body strength. It might not be fully comfortable or safe during pregnancy, however. You can modify this pose by dropping one knee. For example, begin in all fours with your right hand directly beneath your right shoulder. Drop your right knee to the ground and pivot through your torso, pressing hard into your right hand as you lift your left hip toward the sky. Keep your left leg extended if you want, or raise it parallel to the floor for extra legwork.

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