Warning: This article accommodates extra physics than we’ve seen since highschool. But yoga instructor Leah Sugerman fortunately dove into the science behind the controversial cue—and its safer options. (Yoga nerds, you’re welcome.)
I hear the cue “Jump to Plank Pose” with alarming frequency within the yoga world. Time after time, metropolis after metropolis, studio after studio, academics have instructed me to leap from a Half Standing Forward Bend on the prime of my mat right into a High Plank place—as an alternative of Chaturanga. Many academics will inform you that with correct power and management it’s potential to execute this transition safely. Many others will inform you that it’s unimaginable to bounce again to Plank with anatomical integrity. To truly break it down, not solely the anatomy, but in addition the physics of the transition wants to be thought-about. Take a take a look at what science says about this highly effective motion to decide for your self whether or not it’s a clever choice to supply your college students or your self in yoga apply.
5 Reasons to Stop Jumping to Plank
1. First off, touchdown in Plank simply feels awkward.
Something that has been ingrained in me, since my first childhood ballet class on the age of two: Always, all the time, all the time land with bent knees after jumps. This appears intuitive if you truly leap—you naturally bend your knees to land. Imagine leaping down a small flight of stairs and touchdown together with your legs straight. Ouch, proper?
The instinctual bend retains your knee joints (and the whole lot above them!) protected. To perceive that, a bit of extra on joints: Joints are the place bones articulate, or meet. These assembly factors are ingeniously designed to take up shock primarily by means of their cartilage and gentle tissues but in addition by permitting for motion. When drive is utilized to a joint, it will probably transfer to each decelerate the influence and distribute the drive over a bigger space. However, once you apply vital pressure to a joint with out shifting it, as in leaping into Plank, a hard and fast, bone-stacked place for instance, the ligaments inside the wrists, elbows, and shoulders bear the brunt of the impression. One of the most typical causes of ligament damage is “landing awkwardly,” like in a bone-stacked place. That brings us to our subsequent level.
2. Your connective tissues aren’t elastic.
Super fast (and, subsequently, simplified) anatomy briefing: ligaments are fibrous connective tissue that join bone to bone. Tendons are fibrous connective tissue that join muscle to bone. Neither are elastic; they’re viscoelastic, which is a flowery method of claiming that they don’t permit for limitless, however quite very, very restricted mobility. When underneath stress, they will progressively pressure after which return again to their regular state as soon as the strain is launched. However, if stress on a ligament or tendon is critical forcing it to stretch far past its pure capability, then it will be unable to return to its unique state. The similar is true when harassed for a protracted time period—or repeatedly (akin to day after day in asana follow).
See additionally Watch Kino MacGregor’s Jump Back Tips
three. The primary physics of the transition make it unsafe.
A really primary understanding of physics demonstrates how leaping to Plank is inherently injurious to the physique. In the transition to each Plank Pose and Chaturanga Dandasana, the purpose of contact with the ground is the palms, and the purpose of strain is especially within the wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Imagine that the wrists are the pivot of a seesaw, and for this seesaw to stay balanced that time of contact should have an equal stability of torque on both aspect of it. That signifies that if the weight at one finish of the seesaw is greater than the weight on the different finish, then the heavier weight have to be nearer to the pivot level than the opposite to keep that stability.
In Plank Pose, the angle on the shoulder joint is 90 levels and the angle on the elbow joint is zero levels. As you modify this form to Chaturanga, the other happens: the angle on the shoulder joint turns into zero levels and the angle on the elbow joint turns into roughly 90 levels. This switch of angles additionally considerably transfers the distribution of weight. In Chaturanga, the weight out of your waist to your head is distributed in entrance of your elbows and wrists. The weight of your physique under your waist is distributed behind your elbows and wrists. This creates a roughly equal stability of weight from head to heel within the physique. That stability applies considerably much less strain within the joints, in contrast with Plank Pose, the place the overwhelming majority of your weight (every part besides the weight of your head) is erratically distributed behind your wrists. That’s not to say that Plank Pose is inherently dangerous for the physique. There’s an enormous distinction in training Plank Pose as a static posture versus a dynamic transition. Let’s check out that subsequent.
four. The drive of the transition provides shock your physique isn’t ready to take in.
One of probably the most helpful equations of classical physics is that this: the drive on an object is equal to the mass of an object multiplied by the acceleration of that object. You are creating drive by leaping to Plank—that’s, a pressure equal to your personal physique mass multiplied by your improve in velocity within the transition. Landing in Chaturanga as an alternative extra evenly distributes this vital pressure throughout the seesaw of the physique (as defined above).
Furthermore, the static and dynamic biomechanics of this transition can’t be ignored. This is due to an essential little factor referred to as velocity. Velocity is the velocity of an object in a given path. If you have been to stroll ahead and again, ahead and again all the time touchdown in the identical spot, you might create loads of velocity however your common velocity would equal zero since there isn’t any directional motion if you all the time arrive again the place you began. Similarly, if you leap from Ardha Uttanasana to Plank, there isn’t any directional motion in your higher physique. Your shoulders keep aligned over your elbows and your wrists all through, so your velocity is zero. When you bounce from Ardha Uttanasana to Chaturanga, nevertheless, your higher physique strikes ahead in area, altering the angle between your shoulders, elbows, and wrists, which creates velocity. When you leap again, you need to create this velocity since you need the weight of your physique to transfer in a ahead vector to equalize your physique weight over your level of contact with the ground (your seesaw axis: the palms). This easy ahead movement extra evenly distributes your physique weight in order that much less pressure is exerted on one joint alone.
5. When you don’t let the joints take up shock the best way they’re designed to, the remainder of the physique has to compensate.
Jumping to Plank forces the wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints to take up a substantial amount of the shock that might in any other case be dispersed in Chaturanga. That can critically compromise the integrity of these joints by damaging their ligaments, tendons, cartilage, bursa, and extra. But the surplus pressure can even transfer up by way of the physique and be displaced throughout different joints, inflicting ache particularly within the notoriously weak lumbar backbone.
Plus, your huge toes are in danger, bearing the brunt of the touchdown. Typically the primary level of contact in a bounce again, they take up all the influence from the arduous touchdown with nearly all of your weight behind your seesaw axis. This can (and undoubtedly does) break bones within the toes.
See additionally Kathryn Budig Challenge Pose: Crow Jump Back
three Safer Alternatives to Jumping Back to Plank
Will leaping again to Plank kill you? No, possible not. But will leaping to Plank (particularly repeatedly over time) considerably improve your danger of damage and long-term debilitation within the physique? My resounding reply is sure. I extremely advocate you contemplate all these factors earlier than figuring out whether or not leaping to Plank is protected and—extra importantly—useful to your physique in the long term. Because, in any case, isn’t that why we follow yoga within the first place?
About Our Expert
Leah Sugerman is a world yoga instructor, anatomy lover, author, and passionate world traveler. From Leah’s very first encounter with yoga, she was hooked. She fell in love with the pure dichotomy of the follow: the stark distinction between the power and energy in contrast to the grace and give up. She enjoys the gorgeous dance between the 2 extremes that occurs on (and off!) her mat day-after-day. A lover of life, phrases, anatomically protected yoga, journey, handstands, and, most of all, the seashore, Leah teaches courses, workshops, retreats, and trainings each on-line and around the globe. Connect with Leah and comply with her teachings and travels on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and her website.