Stop Thinking “Safe” and Start Thinking “Appropriate”
The short answer is, yes. Planks are safe. However, they may or may not be appropriate for every pregnant woman. Not every exercise is useful for every person, and any exercise that is not improving strength or function is a waste of time.
Planks require a pretty significant amount of core strength to complete, and they can create pressure on the front abdominal wall and pelvic floor, two areas of the body already under additional load during pregnancy. With that said, many pregnant women have the requisite core strength needed to plank, and tolerate it quite well!
What to Consider before doing Planks while Pregnant
How do you know if planks are a useful exercise for you during your pregnancy? Here are some considerations we go through with every client when deciding whether or not to put her in a plank position:
As with all exercises, does the reward outweigh the risk to the abdominal wall and/or pelvic floor? Is there a way to accomplish the training goal with less risk? Planks carry some risk of strain but pack a massive strength benefit.
After the first trimester it’s never a bad idea to move to an incline plank (where your hands are positioned well above the feet on a higher surface). However, being at an incline doe not remove all risk to the front abdominal wall. Which leads me to…
How are you handling the exercise? Can she accomplish this exercise without holding her breath and/or bearing down on her pelvic floor?
Is there abdominal doming or coning down the midline of the abdomen when you plank? Is the bump round and smooth across? How is the tension in the connective tissue (linea alba)? If you can breathe well and don’t see any abdominal doming, planks may be a great exercise for you!
Does the inclusion of planks in your workout further your training goals?
So depending on your unique circumstances, planks may or may not be a good exercise for you during your pregnancy. When in doubt, increase the height of the incline and don’t forget to breathe!