Meet Your Muscles: Transversus Abdominis

Meet Your Muscles

Who: Transversus Abdominis

What: One of the abdominal core muscles. The transversus assists expiration by pulling the abdominal wall inward. To work this muscle, breathe out, pull the belly to the spine and hold this isometric action. This exercise can be done supine, sitting, or standing. To stretch the muscle, hold a maximal inspiration.

Where: See diagrams below.

Origin – Outer third of the inguinal ligament; inner rim of the iliac crest; inner surface of the cartilage of the lower six ribs; lumbar fascia.

Insertion – crest of the pubis and the iliopectineal line; abdominal aponeurosis to the linea alba.

Belly Breathing with the Transversus Abdominis

When: Every day. Sitting in your car and whenever you are lifting. Every time you belly breathe.

Why: this is the key muscle in holding the abdomen flat. This means that strengthening this muscle not only looks good aesthetically but also protects the low back when bending and picking things up. Flattening is the ONLY action of this muscle.

Work It: I am big on the transversus abdominis. It is the deepest and, usually, the least developed abdominal muscle. My new favourite core exercise is extremely simple but wicked effective. Try it! Take a piece of string and wrap it around your waist like a belt, crossing at the belly button and holding one end in each hand.

When you inhale, your hands will move closer together, towards your belly button. If they do not move closer together you definitely need to practice this as much as possible during the day.

When you exhale, pull your belly button towards your spine and see how tightly you can cinch the string (do not cut off your circulation or break the string, be gentle). Hold for a count of three.

Inhale and push your belly out as far as possible. Exhale and pull your belly button to your spine, see if you can go further than the first time. Hold for a count of three.

Repeat at least 10 times. Work up to thirty breaths holding each exhale for a count of five. Don’t overdo this one at first, it can feel strange to have so much air flowing through you.

If you don’t have any string handy or happen to be driving or standing in line somewhere perform the exercise without any string. When you exhale pull your belly button towards your spine and when you inhale push your belly button out.

Remember the muscle you are constracting and stretching – the transversus. It often helps to visualize the muscle fibers running from side to side across your belly. Learn more about the power of your Mind-Body Connection.

Beware: In case you were looking for a quicker way to get that toned look I wanted to reprint this one word for word:  "Federal regulators have about had it with marketers of those gimmicky infomercial abdominal belts, which promise a washboard stomach with the touch of a button.

In a move they’ve dubbed ‘Project Absurd,’ Federal Trade Commission (FTC) officials announced that they are going after the marketers of three popular electronic ab belts that purportedly ‘zap’ flabby midsections into a firm set of chiseled abdominals without the ‘nuisance’ of exercise.

Officials estimated that the makers of the three belts – Fast Abs, Ab Tronic and AB Energizer – have sold $100 million worth of the $40 to $120 belts to several million consumers. Their suits, filed in federal court last month, seek to stop the television, print and Internet advertisements and also to secure refunds for people who bought the belts.

‘There is no evidence that they work,’ says FTC Commissioner Timothy J. Muris. ‘They won’t cause weight loss, fat loss, inch loss or get rid of cellulite.’” (Energy, July/August 2002)

So, forget the gimmicks and get breathing. Learn more breathing exercises.

(Original version first published in V-Factor Body Design, Vol 1.1, Fall 2002)

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