Did you know that the transverse abdominis, or TA, is the deepest muscle of your core?
A lot of people don’t know about this, because it’s hidden underneath the “6-pack” muscle. You can’t see it.
But research has shown that, when this muscle is contracted, it plays a powerful, POWERFUL role in stabilizing the lower back and pelvis.
What is the transverse abdominis muscle?
The TA is the deepest muscle in your entire abdomen.
It wraps all the way around the front of your body, and then eventually connects to the thoracolumbar fascia in the back, which ultimately connects it to the spine.
What is the function of the TA?
When the TA muscle contracts, it creates a compression motion across the abdomen. It’s a similar motion to when you’re sucking in your belly button, as if you’re putting on a tight pair of pants.
Although this motion might seem kind of subtle at first, it’s in fact very powerful.
A 2006 study by Hides at all found that when TA contracts, it forms “a musculofascial band that appears to tighten (like a corset) and most likely improves the stabilization of the lumbopelvic region.”
Basically, the TA is similar to your own built-in back brace – it keeps your spine and pelvis stable.
In 2002, Richardson et al compared the transverse abdominis “drawing-in” maneuver to the abdominal bracing motion that’s commonly prescribed with some physical therapy exercises. (You guys may have encountered this one– it’s basically where you tense up and push your belly button out).
👉 Compared to abdominal bracing, the transverse abdominis inward contraction was shown to directly increase the stiffness around the SI joints– which is exactly what you want, to protect the joints from injury!
As time goes on, more and more research is coming out demonstrating how important the TA is.
I’ve experienced the power of the transverse abdominis first-hand, in my own life.
My long-time readers will know that the first major hurdle I faced was in finding someone to properly assess and correct my SI joint alignment. Now, I see that’s also the first big challenge most of my SI clients face.
Once you learn that piece, the next step is getting the SI joints to stay in place. That’s when all of these various strategies — particularly the transverse abdominis– start to come into play!
I used to have to correct my SI joint alignment multiple times a day. Now, my joints stay in place — training my transverse abdominis, as part of my overall stabilization system , was a huge part of that!
Coming up, I’m going to be sharing a lot more about the TA and my SIJ stabilization strategies — stay tuned!
Richardson, C. A., Snijders, C. J., Hides, J. A., Damen, L., Pas, M. S., & Storm, J. (2002). The relation between the transversus abdominis muscles, sacroiliac joint mechanics, and low back pain. Spine, 27(4), 399–405. https://doi.org/10.1097/00007632-200202150-00015
Hides, Julie PhD*; Wilson, Stephen PhD†; Stanton, Warren PhD*; McMahon, Shaun PhD‡; Keto, Heidi BPhty*; McMahon, Katie PhD§; Bryant, Martina B App Sc§; Richardson, Carolyn PhD*. An MRI Investigation Into the Function of the Transversus Abdominis Muscle During “Drawing-In” of the Abdominal Wall. Spine: March 15, 2006 – Volume 31 – Issue 6 – p E175-E178 doi: 10.1097/01.brs.0000202740.86338.df
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