Side body Strength – Why it matters

Side body Strength

Let’s not forget our side body when we think about core strength. There are so many muscles that wrap around us from the sides, supporting our spine, hips and shoulders, yet the side body can often be forgotten.

Side plank is one of my favourite poses for a number of reasons: it strengthens the transverse abdominus, the obliques, the quadratus lumborum and serratus anterior, as well as the other rotator cuff muscles and the spinal extensors.

→ If we’re not actively strengthening all of the ‘core’ muscles, including the sides and the glutes, then something will be overcompensating, usually the low back.

It’s a simple pose – but not an easy one! It’s like trying to find Tadasana, your perfect standing posture, and then turning it on it’s side! It can be very easy to allow the spine to flex or extend, to let the hips sink or to lift them too high, and to let the supporting shoulder drop against gravity. But, one of the best things about the pose is the range of options it offers.

As with any pose that requires really good strength, working towards it in steps, in order to build efficient strength to hold the full posture is always better than struggling and persevering with the full thing!

You’ve likely practised a range of side plank variations in my classes, but there are two great progressions towards the full thing:

  1. Keep the lower knee on the floor. Start in Plank but drop the knees where they land. Take the right foot back, turn it parallel to the back edge of the mat. Turn the left foot and shin slightly off the mat at an angle. Push the left hand down and hug the shoulder in. Lift the hips but lengthen the tail bone to stay in line.
  2. Place the top foot on the floor. Start in Plank. Turn to the right, placing right foot on the floor in front of the hips. Drop the left heel so you are on the outer edge of the left foot. Push the left hand down and hug the shoulder in. Lift the hips and keep lengthening the tail bone, as before.
  3. The full pose. From Plank, turn to the side, stack the feet. Lift the hips, but not too high. Lengthen the spine, reaching from the crown of your head and the heels. Keep resisting gravity by pushing the balancing hand down and hugging the shoulder in, away from the ear.

This is a fun pose to incorporate into a flowing Vinyasa practice – I think so anyway! and is a great indicator of building more strength.

We’re going to be exploring many more variations of Vasisthasana in my next workshop, on Sunday 24th March in St Agnes, as well as other fun and focussed ways of strengthening and releasing the side body, using Myofascial Release, Yin Postures and Vinyasa Flow. Book your place here. 

What is your experience with this pose? Let me know in the comments below. 

Thank you so much for being here,