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The Most Important Core Exercise for the Transversus Abdominus

Jul 2, 2008
Forget about crunches, sit ups, hanging leg raises, russian twists, or stability ball exercises. The drawing-in maneuver to engage the transversus abdominus is the most important core exercise to master if you want to develop core stability.

If you've never heard of the transversus abdominus I wouldn't be surprised. It the deepest of the four anterior abdominal muscles and so you can't see it. It lies underneath the rectus abdominus (the muscle that forms the 6 pack) and the external and internal oblique muscles.

As its name implies, it runs across the abdomen. It is often referred to as your internal weight belt or your natural girdle because its only job is to brace your lower back and pull in your belly button, like a girdle.

Why is targeting the Transverse Abdominus so important?

A group of physiotherapists in Australia studied back pain by looking at muscle coordination patterns. They wanted to see if there were difference between people with no lower back pain and those with chronic lower back pain. What they found is that when healthy people with no lower back pain move their arms or legs the transverse abdominus is the first muscle to fire.

That's right! If you move your arms or legs, this core muscle contracts before your arm or leg muscles contract. Your body is naturally wired to be stable around the center first before you can move.

In contrast, people with chronic lower back pain displayed an inability to contract the core muscles before the arm and leg muscles. When you start to move before your spine is stable, more pressure is placed on the joints of the lower back.

This is one reason core training has become so popular. Core training can help to stabilize the pelvis and lower back while taking pressure off the spine.

When a personal trainer says to pull your abs in, they are often referring to drawing in and engaging the transverse abdominus.

You can focus on this muscle during all of your exercises. Maintaining good posture is a key to keeping your joints healthy.

The drawing-in maneuver is very easy to do. You can perform it while sitting in a chair, lying on the floor, standing, or even while balaning on your hands and knees in the quadreped poisition.

Simply pull in your belly button so that it moves towards your back. Hold for 10 seconds, relax and repeat 5-10 times.

This simple core exercise can help to improve your core stability and it's the most important core exercise to master!
About the Author
Dr. Charles A. Inniss, Jr. is a physical therapist and personal trainer.

Click the link to his website for free pictures and detailed descriptions of core exercises and free core workouts
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