Learn More About Your Core- Part 1
Do you have low back pain? Do you know someone who does?
Low back pain can pull you out of your normal routine faster than you can say “Pilates”. Whether you are one of the millions of Americans that already suffers from low back pain, or you are just looking for a preventative measure to combat it, the first step is to familiarize yourself with some key muscles.
I would first like to formally introduce you to your Transversus Abdominus. Among a host of other functions, the Transversus (TrA) is integral to the stability of your low back and pelvis. Here’s how it works: this muscle spans from your lower ribs down to the top of your pelvis with its fibers running in a horizontal direction. It pulls inward three dimensionally around your waist. (Yes, corsets and girdles literally stole this idea from a natural function in your body. They just missed the part about how it also aids in breathing)
The TrA has been shown to be one of the most important defenses against lower back pain and serves as the blank canvas for the rest of your abdominal musculature.
Lets get one thing clear: The Transversus Abdominus is NOT your six-pack muscle (that's the Rectus Abdominus). The TrA is deeper and flatter. When used correctly it draws the waist in slightly allowing for an abdominal hollowing. You know that one pair of high waisted jeans that are just a little bit too tight? Imagine the action you use to button up the last button before you go out on the town to show off your moves.
You can begin to train your TrA with the simple breathing exercise below
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet hip distance apart
- Breath deeply in through your nose and exhale through 2 pursed lips like you are trying to blow out a birthday candle
- Place two fingers an inch in from your hip bones and try to feel a gentle muscle contraction as you exhale
- See if you can consciously control the activation of this muscle
Proper use of the TrA is super important when performing daily actions. For example, lifting those ridiculously heavy 5-gallon containers onto the water cooler at work. Or, practicing your dirty dancing lift in the lake with your best friend this summer. So lift and move intelligently, and if you're not sure you've activated your Transversus Abdominus, come see us for some Pilates strengthening!
*Natasha is available for private and duet Pilates. Click here to schedule an appointment with her.