Planks and Pregnancy

Is it Safe to do Planks during Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, it’s crucial to engage in core training to support your spine and other trunk structures as your body grows and changes. However, the core exercises you were accustomed to before pregnancy will require adjustments as your pregnancy progresses. Many questions arise regarding prenatal core training, particularly concerning planks. Is it safe to perform planks during pregnancy, and if so, for how long? Should they be modified, and if yes, when and how? Let’s take a closer look at prenatal planking with the goal of addressing any questions and providing you with the information needed to build your core strength safely and efficiently during your pregnancy.

Is It Safe to Do Planks in the First Trimester?

Planks can be performed safely during the first trimester if executed with proper technique. To do so effectively, you should focus on two key elements:

1. Maintaining a Neutral Alignment: Your body should form a straight line from your ear to your shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle. Additionally, it’s essential to maintain a neutral pelvis to protect your lower back and prevent excessive strain on your abdominal muscles. You can achieve this by visualizing a tail extending from your tailbone and gently tucking it between your legs.

2. When discussing core exercises, it’s essential to highlight the foremost effective breathing exercise: The connection breath. This breathing technique should be integrated into every exercise. In the context of planks, for instance, inhale lightly through your nose and do a forceful exhalation (you should feel your deep abdominal muscles contract and the pelvic floor muscles) through your mouth to maintain the necessary core stability for holding the position. Avoid holding your breath, as this common habit can raise pressure in your abdominal cavity, potentially increasing the risk of developing diastasis recti over time.

Is It Safe to Do Planks During the Second Trimester?

During the second trimester, particularly as your belly grows to a moderate size (usually starting in the early or middle part of this trimester), it’s advisable to consider modifying or regressing planks. This adjustment is due to the increased intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) accompanying your belly’s expansion. IAP refers to the pressure within your abdominal cavity, which is essential for your core’s support of movement and force generation. However, excessive IAP is a primary contributor to diastasis recti. As your belly increases in size, adding more mass to your abdominal cavity, the IAP also continues to rise. Consequently, it becomes crucial to limit activities and behaviors that contribute to this pressure build-up. This is the fundamental reason for recommending the regression of central planks during the second trimester.

Another important sign that it’s time to regress planks is if you observe “coning” in your belly. Coning clearly indicates that the exercise you are doing is too demanding for your core at this stage and should be adjusted. Hence, if you notice coning, whether in the first trimester or later, it’s a sign that the movement should be modified.

Utilize coning as an indicator to assess whether you should consider modifying side planks in the second trimester. The suitability of side planks can differ from person to person. While some individuals may comfortably manage full side planks during the second trimester, others might find it necessary to begin regressing. Keep an eye out for coning in your abdominal area as a helpful sign to help you decide whether regression is needed.

Is It Safe to Do Planks in the Third Trimester?

When the belly reaches its maximum size in the third trimester, it’s advisable to steer clear of full downward-facing planks. Even with proper form, the heightened intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) created by this direct downward-facing position, especially with a substantial belly, can be overly taxing.

Once more, side planks’ suitability varies from person to person. For most individuals, regressing side planks is recommended during the third trimester. Nevertheless, some individuals may still be able to manage full-side planks. Pay attention to any coning in your abdominal area as a signal that the exercise might not be suitable for your body.

Plank Regression Options
Incline plank from the bench
Kneeling plank
Incline plank with shoulder taps

Side Plank Regression Options
Kneeling side plank
Kneeling side plank with top leg extended
Kneeling side
Kneeling side with clamshell


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