What is Transversus Abdominis ?
Transversus Abdominis is the deepest abdominal muscle. It wraps around the waist like a wide elasticated belt or girdle fastening into the abdominal aponeurosis at the front and the thoracolumbar fascia at the back, (and down towards the inguinal ligaments), protecting the spine between the rib cage and the pelvis. Using TrA also reduces separation of postnatal abdominals, supports the internal organs as well as stabilising the pelvis and lower spine.
It also prevents Rectus Abdominis from ‘doming’ when flexing the upper body off the mat from supine, e.g. sit-ups or extending the legs out on the diagonal when supine, e.g. Hundred position, and when used correctly with pelvic floor muscle contraction prevents RA from taking over which would increase intra-abdominal pressure and force pelvic floor muscles downwards.
TrA exercise can be done in a variety of positions, eg Prone, Supine, Side-Lying, Sitting, Standing, on 4 point kneel – hands and knees.
(NB NO 4 POINT KNEEL until 6-8 weeks post-natal check up if all ok)
In time aiming for ability to fire transversus in all functional positions, but Prone is the best one initially as the pelvis, spine and rib cage stay in neutral, (neutral being the most efficient and effective position for the spine), and no other abdominal muscle can ‘take over’ and prevent using TrA in isolation.
DON’T tense buttocks/gluteus muscles
DON-‘T tilt the pelvis or round the back – this will involve RA
DO keep pubic bone and hip bones in contact with the mat
DO keep breathing
DON’T press down with the arms causing the back to overextend.
Transversus Abdominis Exercise
Lie on your front, legs hip-distance apart (in line with sit bones/IT or hip bones/ASIS), ASIS/hip bones and SP/pubic bone on mat (neutral spine), arms bent, one hand on top of the other, forehead resting on back of upper hand, everything relaxed, tummy hanging down into the mat.
Breathe in through the nose into the sides and back of rib cage.
As you breathe out, (through pursed lips), gently draw navel towards the spine, lifting the abdominals upwards and inwards, (a soft, sinking feeling like a balloon deflating).
Hold them there as you breathe in, hold as you breathe out, maintain the contraction as you breathe in again.
Release TrA slowly and with control with the next exhale until it is completely relaxed.
If you cannot yet maintain holding TrA for this length of time, start with holding for one breath in and releasing slowly and with control with the next out breath, then build it up as you get stronger.