The value of the static plank...
My Teacher Paul Edmondson wrote a nice little summary which I've shared below. Paul is an Anatomy Trains teacher, Gray Institute teacher and Power Plate master instructor and knows a few things. I like his comments.
"The question was: "So static planks, good or bad"?......
To quote a great mentor there's no such thing as a bad exercise, ONLY a wrongly prescribed one. (Meaning is the person made to fit the exercise which is typical in our industry, or is the exercise appropriately adapted for the client).
Anyway, back to the question, let's play devils advocate for just a second and breakdown the static plank:-
1- Fun factor- who (especially our clients) really and truly love the 'hold/brace'position of a plank for minutes on end. Truth be told they hate it (yawn) and truth be told PTs do too. Moving has a 'playful' nature that brings a fun element to 'planking' and the variety of options to explore is limitless.
2- Does static serve life's functions well? We are never still throughout our day, even whilst asleep we move! Every cell, tissue and organ needs motion to survive and thrive (not bracing/holding). Cell function and cell life span demands 'motion'.
3- If we hold the position and the muscles are in "constant isometric contraction" blood flow cannot get in to the tissues and cells of the core/spine and so "cell death" is an inevitability. But this would take ages for such a catastrophe to happen surely? Think again, 10 secs will starve the cells of oxygen causing death (so the exercise once prescribed for aiding low back pain - is actually contributing to CAUSE low back pain). Muscles should turn on/off rhythmically in movement to aid micro and systemic circulation.
4- Also if the muscles contract constantly in static "brace" this ensures the muscles "pull" (they don't push) the joints closer together, overtime this leads to over-compression (whereas a movement plank will give much needed "tensioning of core myofascia) this will "squeeze" the disc, potentially causing herniation, bulging disc (for certain dehydration of disc) and as the bones 'shear' the pain receptors on the joint surfaces (and fascial tissues) start to make "noise" (meaning pain)- so again the exercise born with good intention to aid back pain is directly resulting in back pain.
5- Movement has a better "proprioceptive feeding" this means a better transfer into real life tasks, and communication of more tissues resulting in a resilient and robust core for optimum transfer."
Movement is king