If you are aiming to strengthen your core, planking is a good exercise for you. That is if it is done correctly. Doing a plank in an incorrect manner can cause injury. But how do you know if you are planking correctly and not putting too much strain to your muscles? When is planking dangerous?Planking has become very popular over the years. More and more trainers recommend it to strengthen the core muscles and flatten the abdomen and many people practice it. It has also become a challenge for some to try to hold it longer than they should. Unfortunately, as much as people know how a plank is supposed to look, many do not execute it properly.

The Dangers of Planking

Exercising too much is just as bad as not exercising. Like many other exercises, if overdone or executed incorrectly, planking could put your health in danger.

An article published in The Daily Mail discussed that planking could cause an inflammation to the cartilage that connects a rib to a breastbone, known as costochondritis.

According to Lisa Buckworth, author of the article, when she thought she had perfected the plank, she started joining plank challenges in her Pilates class and was able to hold a plank for two minutes, which she considered a victory. She started experiencing excruciating pain in her chest and breast area a month after and was diagnosed with costochondritis. She was told that she overdid planking and it was explained to her that planking can cause strain in the intercostal muscles between the ribs as well as the pectoral muscles of the chest, which puts pressure on the costochondral joint, thus, the pain. [1]

How to Plank Correctly

Planking can also cause back pain. Or should I say, when planking causes pain in your back you are planking wrongly.


Here are some steps to execute the plank properly: [2]

  1. Lie face down on the floor, assuming the push-up position. Make sure that your back is completely straight.
  2. Lift your body up, using your toes and forearms as a support. Make sure that your toes, elbows and fists are flat on the floor.
  3. Keep your body straight. Pay attention to your neck and spine being in a neutral position.
  4. Draw in your abdominal and gluteal muscles and hold the position.
  5. Make sure your body makes a straight line from your heels up to the back of your neck and hold this position.

Planking is not dangerous, as long as you do it properly. Remember not to overdo it. Do not force your body to plank longer than you could. Avoid arching your back, your butt, straining your shoulders, or bending your neck while doing it. Keep your spine straight and do not let your back sag.

Chiropractic Care for Exercise Injury

Chiropractic treatment is beneficial to anyone suffering from any type of injury, including exercise injury. Visit us at Back Doctor Chiropractic Clinic in Chester or contact us through phone or E-mail for booking. You may also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.



36 Thoughts on “When Is Doing the Plank Dangerous?”

  • How long do you hold that plank position I was told 90 seconds but the first time I did it I only did 35 seconds but I also did not do

    • Hold the position for as long as feels comfortable. Don’t strain yourself. Remember that if it is going to flare up your back you might not know for a few hours. If it does not flair your back you can try increasing how long you hold it for.

  • I was doing plank comfortably before for 30 seconds twice taking break.But yesterday i did it for 30 secs when i was too hungry and i immediately rushed to do some cleaning work at home when i had not relaxed after doing it.Then i had food.Suddenly my heartbeat raised and hands and feet were getting cold as well as sweating.I had severe internal cold and gastric too.After taking rest and meds for gastric and cold i got relief.But still i feel some pressure on the heart.Should i continue plank or stop.But it was beneficial for me and i had no problem earlier when i used to do at ease.

    • Hi Eliza, it sounds like you may have been hungry and stressed. Those symptoms are not likely to come just from doing the plank. It is possible that you have a heart condition. If the symptoms persist you should go and see your doctor. I would wait until you are feeling better, not too hungry etc, and just do it for 10 seconds.IF you are ok do it for 20 seconds the next day and then up to 30 again. Let me know how it goes.

    • You really need to talk to your doctor. Exercise like the plank may help reduce your blood pressure in the long term, but in the short term it could be dangerous especially if your blood pressure is very high. You need personal advice from a health professional who knows your condition and who can work with you.

  • I have took up a plank challenge for 30 days and I started with a 6:33min on day 1. Throughout the challenge increased my timing quite a bit, the longest I had done was 16min, averagely 10-12min, but usually around 6-7min it gets really hard. After the challenge I noticed my inner thigh muscle is sored and strained, as I run quite regularly, my legs muscle became tight and I have a pull at the back of my right knee, just at the edge towards the right side. I think this could be due to my heavy planking exercise and my regular running, and probably lack of leg strength as I don’t do leg exercises only stretching. Now the pulling pain at the back of my right knee has gotten better as I had stopped both planking and running for a week, but my inner thigh muscles are still aching and my right knee still feel slight pain and pull when I bend my knee, so what should I do now?

    • Apologies for the late reply. I guess things may have moved on for you by now. It could be your psoas muscle strained, adductors and medial biceps. I would work to stretch these muscles. Find some stretches on line. Don’t do them too vigorously at first. Good luck. Steve

  • Planking ruined my life. 🙁 I have leg discrepancy where one leg is shorter than the other which causes my hip to tilt so one side is higher than the other.. I had no idea of all this until I started doing normal plans and side to side planks. I did these daily for 2 weeks and the next thing you know my rib was started noticeably popping out on my left side and my breathing got worse. I could feel a stretch in my upper back muscles every time I took a deep breath. My doctor referred me to physio and they couldn’t help much except tell me to do some stupid exercises which I doubt will work.

    • Hi, apologies for the late reply. Have you seen a chiropractor? The plank puts quite a pull on your back and if your spine or pelvis are misaligned, this exercise could make things a lot worse. I can’t say for sure without checking you out but if your pelvis is misaligned (which will cause a leg length discrepancy) then the plank will put extra stress on the muscles on one side of your back. The muscles in your low back are attached on to your ribs and can pull them out if there is a bad spasm. The same sort of thing can happen in your upper back.

  • I am 43 years old teacher. i just wanna maintain abs and general fitness. I have been doing elbow plank 3 stes for 45 secs. Then side plank 3 sets 30 secs..then i do one arm plank twice 60 secs then i do shoulder tap 30 reps 3 times. My question si that can i do them every day or do i need rest a week?

    • Hi Shiva,
      You may benefit from doing these exercises every other day and working on other parts of your body on the days between. I am not sure of the evidence behind it, but some people say that it is good to give the body time to adjust between sessions. So in the day off, your muscles and nervous system have time to develop after the work out. It’s like learning: People learn better if they have good breaks rather than cramming all the time.

  • Good day.
    I did planking from to 30 to 50 secs…it really helped me lose some of my belly fats.
    However,i have been experiencing pain fro. My back neck to my shoulder to my spine…it’s months already but im still experiencing the pain.what should please help.

    • Dear Giensa. It sounds like the extra stress you put on your spine while doing the plank may have misaligned the spine. If that is the case then a visit to the chiropractor should sort you out

  • I do planking 1 minute and 5 reps because it was prescribed by my Physical therapist for my mild scoliosis, but after a 1 minute 1 repetition my lower back in the lumbar spine is aching when I stand straight and I think its getting a little bit bulky.

    • I would recommend that you ease off and go back to your therapist to get advice. You may find some chiropractic manipulation helps.

  • I had lumbar issue that was suggested to have operation which I refused instead I start exercising. Plunking is very uncomfortable for me but doing it over time I manage to master without hurting my back. Arching I concluded hurting causing severe pain. Determined to get better instead of quitting I practice the correct way and listen to my body, which give me good result. One of the exercise that I believe help to ease my lower back pain. I’m so happy and recommend that exercise is good for everybody. Just listen to our body and allow to do it if body permitted.

  • Hello, i usually do planking for 2/3 minutes and i go do a bit of running afterwards. However,about 3 minutes in when i run, i start to get a bit of pain and strain in the tendons in both of my feet. Is there any connection between the discomfort in the feet and the planking i do before?

    • Hello Diogo.
      It is possible that there is a connection. Why don’t you try stopping the plank for a week to see if the pain in the feet goes away. If it does than you should seek expert advice. I would not say give up planking but you will need to investigate why planking is causing the pain.

  • Extremely valuable and thank you for your brief, concise and to the point answers. You are very kind>


  • I’ve been doing planking for 1-2mins every morning for more than a year now. On top of the planking, I workout(Circuit training, also includes side planking 1 mins each side ) 5-6 days a week. But the past 2 months, I’ve been experiencing numbing of my right arm and hand. I do stretching before I do my planking and workout. I recently went to a massage therapist to loosen some of my tight muscle, but i still feel the numbing on/off everyday. Can doing planking everyday cause pinched nerve?

    • Dear Kim, I doubt whether the plank is causing the problem but it may irritate an underlying problem. I would try not doing the plank to see if that makes it better. Also, you should seek professional advice from a doctor or chiropractor.

    • I would not like to say yes because I do not know your medical history. It is important to exercise but doing too much could be dangerous. You really should be working with a supportive health professional. If you want to do it, you should wear a heart rate monitor and do not allow your heart rate to go over a figure recommended by your doctor.

  • Hi, I habe been planking for more than 5 years regulary. 2 m 30 secs Elbow plank and 1 m 30 secs side plank each side. Is it good to do every day or do i need rest for it? Kindly write me.

    • HI. apologies for the late reply. I think it is good to do it every other day to allow your body to take on the benefit of the session. You can do other exercises in between

  • I have some planks for 20 years and they never bothered me. The past year I had rotator cuff surgery and back issues and I stopped exercising. I can no longer do a plank without feeling extreme pressure in my head. Better if I do them straight armed but on elbows it really hurts. I am also experiencing pressure in head when bending over to pick things up. I suffer with vertigo every 6 months. I’ve had MRI of my head and cervical and everything is normal except cervical degenerative conditions but only moderate. Any thoughts of where this pressure is coming from would be appreciated.
    No sinus issues either.

    • It could be from the neck and upper back. If it is, a chiropractor should sort it out. (apologies for the late reply!)

  • I am 80 and have arthritis in the lumber region, I am not overweight but would like to have firmer abs I have managed to perform simple planking for 40 seconds at a time could increasing this result in damage to my lower back as it is often sore next day. Thank you

    • I would recommend including planking as part of a whole body programme. If you want to up your reps I would suggest you do it under supervision. You could benefit your back by doing some simple basic yoga stretches like happycat/angrycat. This would also help to stimulate your abs.

  • I had been doing plank for several years without any problems. Recently, however, I experience pain in the front abdominal muscles, from the stomach area down to the pelvic bones. It starts at a low level as soon as I get out of bed and may intensify significantly, especially if I do simple stretching while standing with my arms up or the cobra exercise. Sometimes, the maximal dose of ibuprofen is needed after that. It subsides significantly or completely goes away if I lie down. I have not done plank for several months now, but the condition persists. It does not correlate with my other exercises (weightlifting). It appears that doctors, both ordinary physicians and sports medicine specialists, are not familiar with this condition.

    • Try getting a massage or see a chiropractor. Also you may benefit from blood tests and if all else fails, an abdominal scan.

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