The transverse abdominis muscles are your inner abdominal muscles that lay behind the rectus abdmoninis and the oblique muscles. They help to support the back, aid in posture, and help with deep breathing in heavy lifting and in childbirth. The transverse abdominis muscle is often not effectively trained and forgotten about when doing abdominal exercises. However, strengthening the transverse abdominis will help develop your overall core and abdominal muscles, give you more power and help reduce back pain.
Transverse Abdominis Activation
Isolate your transverse abdominis muscle. This is the best way to begin activating your inner core muscles. Take in breath, and when you breath out, contract your transverse abdominis. There should be no movement of the hips, pelvis or spine. The isolated contraction of transverse abdominis will feel like a light, deep tension under your fingertips, not a contraction that pushes the fingers out. Continue to breathe normally while holding the contraction.
Perform the Stomach Vacuum once you have located where the transverse abdominis is. While standing upright, place your hands on your hips, and exhale all the air out of your lungs. Expand your chest, and bring your stomach in as much as possible, and hold. When performing the Stomach Vacuum, it helps to visualize trying to touch your navel to your backbone. Perform two or three sets at a time of this exercise. Each set consists of one isometric contraction held for a certain about of time. Gradually work to increase the length of time the contraction is held.
Practice the Stomach Vacuum in other positions once you have mastered it while standing upright such as lying down, sitting or bent over. The Stomach Vacuum can also be performed while doing everyday tasks or conjunction with your regular abdominal exercises.
Perform other core exercises to help strengthen the transverse abdominis such as the plank or side plank. Initially these exercises may be difficult to perform, and you may be only able to hold the position for a few seconds. Continue to practice the exercises by gradually increasing the length of time you can hold the position until you reach one full minute.
Never hold your breath when performing these exercises.