Archive for the ‘Transverse Abdominal’ Category

21 September

Transversus Abdominis – The Core: Part 2 – Week 3 of Pilates




TA pic


This is a picture of your Transverse Abdominal.  Notice the length of the muscle from the pubic bone to the xiphoid process on the rib cage and horizontal fibers around to the back.


The Transverse Abdominal is the deepest layer of abdominal muscle that runs from the pubic bone to the upper rib cage and attaches to the spine via the lumbar fascia.  It creates a cylinder of stability around the torso to support the low back and pelvis.  The muscles fibers are static on the bottom and phasic on the top.  That means that the lower fibers are meant to be stabilizers and the upper fibers are more movable.  Think of a tree with the trunk being more stable than the upper branches.  This allows for the low back and pelvis to be more supported, and still allow for the movement in the ribs for breathing. 

This muscle is one of the main muscles of the core.  If this muscles does not engage, then the multifidi or back stabilizers will also not engage. “Contraction of this muscle increases the tension laterally in the thoracodorsal fascia and helps to increase the intra-abdominal pressure(Hodges and Richardson 1996, Vleeming et al 1997).”  The thoracodorsal fascia has superficial, intermediate and deep layers that connect every muscle, including back stabilizers, like a sling between the shoulder and opposite hip.  For simplicity sake, I like to think mainly of the transversus and the multifidi relating to each other like a sandwich around your spine, hugging you all day long.  This sandwich feeling is the intra-abdominal pressure that stabilizes the low back. 

Of all the muscles of the core, I find that the transversus abdominis is one of  the easiest of the core to locate and to feel engage.  Therefore, it is always the best place to start when educating yourself about the core.  Below are some exercises to start noticing your transversus abdominis muscle.

Abdominal Sensation – Lying with your back on the floor(supine), with your knees bent and feet firmly on the floor.  Feet in line with your hips or sit bones.  Place a little more weight between the big toe and second toe.  If possible, put a rolled up towel between your upper inner thighs.  Make sure your pelvis and spine are neutral.  Place your hand below your belly button on your abdominal wall.  Take an inhale, and as you exhale feel your abdominal sink below your hand.  Repeat.  Try breathing out like you are fogging up a mirror if you would like more of an abdominal sensation.

Abdom sensation


Modified Curl Up –  Same position as before.  Interlace your fingers and place them behind your neck, or grab the corners of your mat if you have neck problems.  Take and inhale to prepare, as you exhale feel your transversus abdoninis sink and then curl up. Use the fogging up a mirror breath if you would like. Check that when you curl up, you don’t lose the connection to your transverse abdominal.  If you do lose the connection, you will see a slight bulge in the abdominal area.

Mod curl 1


Mod curl 2


Modified Curl Up for Upper Transversus Abdominis – Same position as before.  Place you hand on the lower ribs.  As you exhale, you will feel the ribs lower toward the floor.  Use that movement to begin your curl up.  Maintain the rib connection as you lower down to the floor.

Upper thoracic 1


Upper thoracic 2


Standing Abdominal Sensation –   Standing, place one had below your belly button in front and one at your mid back.  As you exhale, feel how the two hands come together.  As you inhale, your hands will move slightly away from each other.  It is like giving yourself a little hug all day long.

Standing abdom sensation