Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Transversus Abdominis – Your new best friend!

So what’s the big deal about this muscle?

The Transversus Abdominis (T.A.) is a corset-like muscle that wraps around your torso and attaches to the pelvis. Your Transversus Abdominis is very important because it helps to hold your internal organs in place. It also helps support your lower back and stabilize your torso during certain movements, such as heavy lifting.  

Unfortunately, It's also the most neglected of abdominal muscles, primarily because so few traditional moves work this area. Because it acts to stabilize your torso, it only works when you are moving. But most of us sit all day long, allowing this muscle to become woefully weak. When it weakens, it doesn't do a good job of holding your internal organs in place, allowing your abdomen to bulge.

Why can’t I just “suck in my tummy” to activate it?
For years, this is what the fitness world told us to do.  However, recent research has shown us that the old “pull your belly button to your spine” trick doesn’t necessarily activate the T.A.  In fact, in the majority of cases, it only activates the Rectus Abdominis and the Obliques (the more superficial/top muscles).

So how do I turn that sucker on?
Activating the T.A at will takes a lot of practice, effort and consistent training.  Luckily as a woman, you have already begun!  Recent ultrasound techniques have shown that the most effective way to activate the T.A is to begin with a Kegel!  The quickest way to tell if you can do turn the T.A on at will is to do the following:
1. Lay on your back, feet on floor, knees bent
2. Dig your fingers into the flesh on the inside of your hip bones…dig deep.
3. Take a deep breath in as you are relaxed
4. On the Exhale, do a kegel and at the same time, imagine you are pulling your two hip bones towards each other.

You should feel the T.A activate under your fingertips.  Note: this is a very light tension and you may only be able to hold it for a second or two.  It should feel like your T.A. is tightening rather than ‘bulging up’.

Don’t think you get it?
If you still don’t feel like you are activating the right muscles after trying the above activity, try “coughing” or “sneezing” with your fingers in the same spot on the inside of your hips – this should make the T.A tighten.  Note: It will also make the T.A. bulge up so use this as a test to find your T.A. rather than a regular exercise.  

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