The transverse abdominis (TrA) is our body’s deepest layer of abdominal muscle located underneath the rectus abdominis.
This muscle wraps around the torso acting as a corset to support and protect the internal organs by compressing against the abdominal wall. The transverse abdominis also acts as a stabilizer to the pelvis and the lumbar spine by providing support and preventing improper movement. So why is it important to keep this muscle strong? A weak transverse abdominis may lead to low back pain. When your TrA is weak, it is unable to do its job of stabilizing the pelvis and spine. This creates postural instabilities that can be a cause of pain in the lower back. Keeping this muscle strong allows your pelvis to stay in a neutral position and keeps your lumbar spine supported, which can prevent back pain.
Now that you know the importance of your TrA muscle, you want to strengthen it right? Before you learn the exercises, you need to be able to locate and isolate this muscle. In order to find the TrA, you first need to find your pelvic bones. Once you have placed your fingers on the pelvic bones, bring your fingers about two inches in and tighten the stomach without “sucking in”. If you feel muscles tightening where your fingertips are, you have successfully found the TrA!
Here are a few simple exercises you can do at home that will help strengthen your transverse abdominis.
The supine TrA exercise
For this exercise, you will lie down on a mat with your knees bent. Locate the TrA with your fingertips, and then draw the stomach in. Tighten the muscle while pressing your back flat against the mat. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat 20 times. Divide into 2 sets of 10 if needed.
The “Dead Bug” exercise
An exercise called “Dead Bug” doesn’t exactly sound appealing when patients first hear the name but it’s actually a great core strengthening exercise! I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds. For this exercise, you will lie on your back with your knees bent. Tighten your stomach as you raise one leg and lower the opposite arm over your head. Alternate to the other side, do 2 sets of 10.
The Quadruped TrA exercise
For this exercise you will be positioned on your hands and knees. As you tighten your stomach, raise one leg and the opposite arm while keeping your pelvis in a neutral position. Hold this position for 5 seconds and alternate to the other side. Complete 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
Doing these exercises daily can increase your core strength. This will help prevent low back pain, or help relieve the current pain you may have. Gaining core strength can benefit your body in many ways such as, improving posture, better balance, and easier breathing. Having a strong core results in a stronger body as a whole. Why not start now?