Did you know that a strong back comes from having a strong core? To clarify, when we say “strong core” we are not referring to having a “six pack.” There are 4 different abdominal muscles and those “six-pack muscles” (anatomical term: rectus abdominis) only play a minor role in your overall core strength. There is a MUCH BIGGER PLAYER which helps with:
-Low back stabilization
-Increased balance + stability
…to name a few!
This muscle is called your TRANSVERSE ABDOMINIS (or TVA for short!) This is the deepest of your abdominal muscles and wraps 360 degrees around your spine for protection and stability. Unlike the rectus abdominis that runs up + down, the TVA runs HORIZONTALLY and acts like a natural waist girdle.
A little bit of background behind the TVA muscle: The role of your TVA is to fire and contract well before you make any movements. This is to stabilize and brace your core which works synergistically with your back muscles to provide good, strong support.
Studies have shown that a healthy, well-trained TVA muscle will fire before you even THINK of making a movement to help prep your body for what’s to come. Thinking of picking up a baseball to throw it? The TVA has already fired. Raising your hand to open a door in front of you? The TVA has already fired.
When the TVA muscle is deconditioned, there can be a LAG time response. This means that it will not fire as quickly in advance, leaving your back muscles to pick up the slack and stabilize. This can place a lot of unnecessary strain on those low back muscles.
What are some signs that your TVA may need some work?:
–Lower abdominal out-pouching (most people think this is fat they cannot lose, when really it’s over compensation from the low back having to do the work!)
–Frequent episodes of low back pain
–Anterior pelvic tilt (over-arched low back)
–Relying on furniture or objects nearby to stand from sitting
This week, take a look at the short video below on how to activate your TVA and how to do various levels of difficulty for planks.