Plank Exercises and Shoulder Injuries


Plank exercises are a dynamic must-have for any effective strength routine. They are also perfect if you want to get back on track after suffering from a shoulder injury because they target the shoulders without putting them under too much strain. Having suffered from a torn rotator cuff, I know how hard it is to find exercises that don’t put your shoulders at risk of further injuries. The good news is that the plank exercise can help you strengthen your core and protect your shoulders at the same time. The bad news is that there are many variations of this exercise, some of which do put your shoulders at risk again. So let’s take a look at some common planking mistakes and how you can correct them to avoid another injury.
Let’s try something new today: answering questions.

I was going to do them by video, but I got kicked out of the pool area at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas.

Something about no cameras in the pool area, oh well.

“Hi rick,

yes the sessions were  a success.

I have myself experienced  the tight hamstrings , the sore gluteus, etc

I went to physio and submitted to IMS. What do you think of using IMS?

I still  feel the discomfort I described above. I also have scoliosis on the right side and  I noticed that when I have  discomfort it is on the right shoulder, hip and gluts  on the right side. Iis there a co-relation?

I am looking forward to receiving the notes for the SI Joint lecture along with the description of the exercises.

Thank you and have  a great day”


Rick and IMS

I like IMS. As I say, it is painfully good.

When I was having SI joint pain, it was something that I tried. I went for three sessions to help jump-start my body regarding muscle imbalances.

Things were so tight that stretching and foam rolling was not helping, so I got IMS, which helped relax things.

Then it was up to me.

I started working on the problem leading to the symptoms of muscle imbalances.

I worked on core stability related to activation, endurance, and strength.

Then I modified my exercise program, especially when it came to my running. Since I am not a natural runner, I need to give my body more time between runs.

I should have started with this, “What is IMS?”  Since doing IMS is out of my scope of practice, it is not something that I focus my time on. I understand that dry needling addresses overactive parts of the muscle.

Scoliosis and Seat Pain

Yes, the pain in your seat area could be due to scoliosis, mainly depending on what activities you do.

If you do a lot of impact activities like running or step classes, that will do it.

In the SI joint presentation, I talked about the research that showed the link.

With the exercises in Effective Exercises for Scoliosis, you can work on your scoliosis and include some of the stretching and foam rollings I talked about in the session. All of it is in the handouts that I emailed you.

“Hi Rick,

I attended the BCRPA sessions on SI Joint and Muscle Imbalance but didn’t leave my name for the handouts to be sent to me.

Would you please forward these to me. I really enjoyed your presentations.



Thank You

This is not much of a question, but I wanted to thank you.

It is great to hear that I have been able to help you and help your clients.

Any feedback on how I can improve is always welcome.

After 12 years of fitness education presentations, I can learn and get better.

Yes, E, I sent you the handouts for both presentations.

“Hey Rick, I was at your session on Muscle Imbalances on Saturday. You were busy so I didn’t get a chance to say hello.

I enjoyed the session very much. Thanks for the great 10 “Must do” exercises.

One question: when doing a plank I noticed your elbows were not directly under your shoulders. What’s your take on that?

On floor prone exercises, should there be alignment to protect the shoulder?



Elbow Position on Planks

I have never thought about this.

When I do a plank, I have my elbows at my side compared to having my elbow/forearm under my shoulder.

3 Reasons Why You Should Do the Plank This Way

  1. For one, to me, it feels more natural to have my elbow tight up against my body compared to my elbows/forearms under my shoulder.
  2. When you bring your elbows/forearms under your shoulder, it moves the shoulders forward and protracts the scapula, which is not a position we want to promote.
  3. When your elbows are tight against your body, you can activate your scapular muscles and rhomboid muscles to put the shoulder and mid-back into an ideal position.

What Alignment Shoulder the Shoulder Be in a Plank?

  • Step 1 – I have my elbows tight to my side. I activate my rhomboids to retract my shoulders, not just my scapula, so I align well from the lateral view.
  • Step 2 – Then, I activate the scapular muscles.

Step 1 aligns the shoulder and the second step protects the shoulder.

That was a great question, J.  Thank you so much.

Now to the final question.

“Good morning, Rick.

I have a couple queries for you: Does laying your knee flat & contracting the muscles around the knee (almost making the knee dance) strengthen the knee?

Is it possible to safely strengthen a sore shoulder (pain concentrated in the area of the anterior deltoid)?

I’m sure the info is on your site but, as I surf on my iPhone (I know, it’s so small you’re wondering how I don’t fall into the drink!), it’s difficult to go through the plethora of information. If you could just point me in the right direction… 🙂

Supine, either sitting or laying down as long as knee is relaxed & relatively straight. Q2: Looking forward to it! :)”

Activating Muscles Around the Knee

There are three points to remember in this exercise:

This exercise would be suitable for someone recovering from a knee injury or has arthritis of the knee where they need to work on activation, endurance, and strength of the muscles around the knee. A healthy and fit person would not get any benefit.

Some people who have injured their knee or have arthritis need to work on their end range extension in their knee. This exercise will do that.

Lastly, activating the quads and straightening the knees makes it easier to start the gluteus maximus, which is essential for people with lower back pain or SI joint pain.

Now onto the next question.

Strength Training a Sore Shoulder

Yes, you can.

Often, when the pain is in the anterior deltoid, try focusing on scapular stabilization exercises. This will work on an often ignored muscle group in the shoulder and decrease the stress on the anterior part of the shoulder, plus make sure that the shoulder is in good alignment with all shoulder exercises. Take a look at the answer to the plank question above.

Thank you for all of your questions; this was great.

Please do send me your questions.

I will do my best to answer them. I won’t answer all of them, but I will be able to do some.

Have a great day. I am off to spend my Friday at a Fitness Conference and prepare for my presentation on Saturday.

Take care.

Rick Kaselj, MS

Before I go, here is a video about the importance of posture and shoulder injuries:

Shoulder Pain Solved