As It Happens

He pushed through chronic pain and planked for over 9 hours to set a world record

Daniel Scali grew up with chronic pain in his left arm that kept him away from a lot of physically demanding activities. But now he's set the world record for planking.

'Every second felt like a minute. It was like eternity,' Daniel Scali says

On Aug. 6, Daniel Scali broke the record for the longest time in the abdominal plank position (male) at nine hours, 30 minutes and one second. (Submitted by Daniel Scali )

Daniel Scali grew up with chronic pain in his left arm that kept him away from a lot of physically demanding activities. But now he's set the world record for planking.

The core strength exercise helps the Adelaide, Australia, man manage his pain and push his limits. And by winning the Guinness World Record for the longest abdominal plank at nine hours, 30 minutes and one second, he's raising awareness of his condition.

With complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), Scali feels an intense pain at the slightest touch. 

"As I'm sitting here, I feel a heavy throb, like just a dormant throb just waiting there," he told As It Happens host Carol Off.

"Moving the arm, you sort of get a little tingling that that's not right. Even though there's no damage ... at the moment, my brain is sending warnings to my arm to say, 'Well no, that movement is not right. Send a pain signal."

When Scali was 12-years-old, he was playing on a trampoline when he fell off and landed on his left arm. As he got up, that arm flopped backward.

Doctors found a few broken bones — but after two months of healing, Scali felt even more pain.

"It was a severe shooting and stinging pain running up my elbow, up my shoulder back to my fingers," he said. "The doctors were a bit baffled about it."

Scali holding his Guinness World Record certificate. (Submitted by Daniel Scali)

Up to 26 in 100,000 people are diagnosed with CRPS each year, according to a 2017 study.

Scali said because of his condition, he missed out on playing contact sports, like boxing, with his brother.

"It's only now recently that I've sort of grown up a little bit where I've been able to accept it ... and say, 'Well, this is what I've got. Now do something with it," he said.

Scali says he uses planking to manage his chronic pain. (Guinness World Records)

Scali started training for the abdominal planking record at the beginning of the year — and prepared himself for the different aches he would feel when holding longer planks.

He also hired mind coach, Michael Sorgiovanni, to help him through the process.

On Aug. 6, Scali recorded his plank for the Guinness World Record. 

"I wasn't allowed to look at the time. I'd only really ask my coach ... to see how far are we in," he said. "But I clearly, vividly remember at the four-hour mark thinking, 'OK, you're not halfway there yet. Keep through, stick to what you know and stay strong.'"

Scali beat the previous record by more than an hour. As soon as he passed eight hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds, the weight of his plank felt heavier.

"I really, really had to fight myself to keep myself pushing along because every second felt like a minute. It was like eternity," he said.

When he reached his goal, he says his body struggled to move again.

"I'm not too sure if you saw the videos of me trying to get down. It wasn't actually me not wanting to get down. It was my knees and my back and my shoulders and my arm not actually allowing me to move. It felt like, if I was going to move, something was going to snap," he said.

But now he says his body is feeling good.

Since breaking the record, Scali has been "blown away" by the messages people have sent him asking about the chronic pain and how he manages it. 

"I want to just sort of concentrate on bringing more awareness to CRPS," he said. "It is a confusing condition, but there is enough research out there now for people to understand it better."

Written by Mehek Mazhar. Interview with Daniel Scali produced by Niza Lyapa Nondo.

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