How To Properly Engage Your Transverse Abdominis Muscle

What are the Transverse Abdominis Muscles?

The transverse abdominis muscles are your inner abdominal muscles also known as TrA.  They lay behind the rectus abdominis and the oblique muscles. They help to support the back, aid in posture, and help with deep breathing in heavy lifting. 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.  These muscles give you more power and help reduce back pain when performing the most simple to complex tasks.

JOI Will Show You How to Properly Engage Your Transverse Abdominis Muscle:

Lie on your back or side with your spine in a neutral posture, (gentle curve in your low back).

Try the following connect cues to produce a deep, isolated contraction of TrA:

Imagine a line that connects the inside of your two pelvic bones (front of hips).

Contract your pelvic floor by drawing the muscles from behind your pubic bone to your tail bone and the left and right sides of your pelvic floor together. Then, like a draw string bag or zipping a zipper, gently draw the entire pelvic floor up.


In side-lying - gently lift your lower belly up away from your pubic bone

No movement of your hips, pelvis or spine should occur as you gently connect to TrA. If you palpate your belly just inside the left and right hip bones, this deep contraction should feel like a light, deep tension under your fingertips, not a contraction that pushes your fingers out.

Hold the contraction for 3 - 5 seconds and then release. Remember to breathe throughout this exercise. Repeat the contraction and hold for 3 sets of 10 repetitions 3 - 4 times per day for 4 weeks. Make sure throughout every contraction you are not holding your breath.  

By: Robert Lim, PTA

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