SIDE SQUATS ARE BETTER THAN SIDE PLANKSJan 09, 2019
Side Planks are quite popular as a core exercise. Often we see them done dynamically, where you’re body is in a straight line and the hip drops to the floor and back up to the side plank.
However this lateral flexion and extension may exacerbate lateral facet shear if the person performing it has a hypermobile lumbar spine (like me).
Facet shear occurs when your vertebral bones shift slightly and it results from pressure and friction.
An alternative to the popular side plank is Dr. Stuart McGill’s Side Squats. This exercise mimicks a squat, but changes your relationship to gravity so that your lateral stabilization muscles are working and there’s less risk of shearing an already unstable lumbar spine.
The setup is easy: Start on your forearm with your shoulder stabilized. Your hips and ankles will be inline, knees bent forward.
HERE’S HOW YOU DO THE SIDE SQUAT
Starter Variation: Lie on your side, make a fist with your bottom hand and press down on your shoulder, as you feel your shoulder blade suction down your back, activate your abs and feel your waist lift away from the floor. Hold for 10–30 seconds.
Rest, repeat 5–10 times.
Regular variation: Lie on your side, make a fist with your bottom hand and press down on your shoulder, as you feel your shoulder blade suction down your back, activate your abs and feel your waist lift away from the floor while your your hips press forward in extension.
You’ll be lifting and straightening from hips to knees at the same time.
Lower your hips back towards the ground, but remain in a semi-tensioned starting position so you can go right back up.
The key here is to do (and control) this move as slowly as possible. Each rep should take you 5 seconds to set up, then a total of 10–15 seconds to complete one rep.
Aim for 5–10 consecutive reps. When that gets too easy, have a rest, then add another set (or two).
A side note: If this move is new for you, the first one may seem unreasonably difficult due to the neural re-organization that’s required for completing the exercise.
Like most things though, if you practice your Side Squats every day, you’ll definitely start to feel stronger and more stable from hips to core to shoulder.
Side Squats are good for improving lumbopelvic stability and core strength and… it just might shrink those love handles too.
Try it and let me know what you think!