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Want Flat Abs?
In Pilates we focus on the Transverse Abdominis as the base. Here’s more from my friend
David Grisaffi, CHEK
Corrective Exercise Kinesiologist
Golf Biomechanic Certified
Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach
As we begin to focus on achieving fitness goals like having flat abs, we often start by looking down at our stomach region. It sticks out way to far for most of us. We often ask ourselves “what happened” and what can we do about it? Set goals in my usual answer to my clients. Remember the old saying “focus on what you want, or you’ll get what you don’t want”, I could not be any more true in trying to reduce your waistline and look good for a summer 2007.
To gain strength and support in our entire core or belly region we are going to look at and discuss the transverse abdominis. Transverse abdominis is the deepest, innermost layer of all abdominal muscles. Importance of this muscles function has been well-documented, but unfortunately has been greatly misunderstood by most of the fitness and medical practitioners.
It has been shown that the transverse abdominis is the first muscle to contract during any movement of the arm and legs. What this means prior to extremity (arms and legs) movements, there must be a proceeding contraction of the transverse abdominis to stabilize the spine and pelvis during movement. When the spine and pelvis all are stable, the nervous system send signals to the brain effectively telling it is safe to recruit the extremity muscles.
This stable foundation is a prerequisite for force generation in our bodies. Force generation simply put is movements put together in a sequence to achieve a outcome. When the transverse abdominis is fully functional, all joints in the body receive greater neurological energy, thus allowing efficient and injury for a movement.
When the transverse abdominis is not working optimally, the brain automatically lowers the neurological impulses to the muscle, as the brain attempts to protect joints and prevent any damage. When the joints are unstable, the pressure sensitive proprioreceptors in the joints began to sense excessive stress during movement. The brain in turn attempts to cease muscular contraction protecting the joints and joint structures. Due to our evolutionary adaptations over thousands of years in our bodies, the body will prioritize joint longevity over movement ability. In other words it will attempt to shut you down, before you get injured. Now this is the way our body is arranged and it doesn’t always work this way. If you are on painkillers for a bad back, the neurological impulse to the brain will be subdued thus allowing for movement that would not normally happen.
The result of a dysfunctional transverse abdominis is poor movement quality and instability leading to early degeneration of bold bones and joints. Any person wanting to function, look and feel better must maintain function of this important muscle. In many cases, due to surgeries (cutting the abdominal wall, C.-sections, hysterectomies,
hernias, and other operations) communication goes awry. Communication must be reestablished through specific isolation exercise techniques. These techniques are outlined in more detail in my e-book Firm and Flatten Your Abs.
The most common cause of transverse abdominis dysfunction is?
What was your guess?
That’s right disuse!
Through inactivity, poor body awareness, respiratory dysfunction and neglect of physical and emotional health the end result most often it is physiological dysfunction. Many quality movement patterns and skills will be lost including effective function of the transverse abdominis. Without a good functional transverse abdominis you increase chances of injuries.
There are few tricks you can do to get your transverse abdominis functioning properly. This exercise will help you gain communication with this often over looked muscle. If you have my Firm and Flatten Your Abs ebook it is on page 51.
So here you go-
Four-Point Transverse Abdominis Tuck
This is a great exercise for isolating the transverse abdominis, for correcting “pooch bellies,” and rate connecting with the nervous system. It is particularly valuable for pre-surgery preparation and post-surgery rehabilitation. The lack of neural drive to the core muscles is one reason for the belly hanging out as you know.
Position: get down on all fours as though you were going to crawl. Place your hands directly underneath your shoulders and your knees directly beneath your hips.
1. Inhale and let your transverse abdominis or your belly hang towards the floor.
2. Exhale, drawing the belly button in toward your spine.
Avoid any spinal movement during exercise such as contract includes hamstrings, or any upper body changes.
Do this exercise on a 10 second hold and 10 second rest cycle for three minutes. Do this two to three times a day and you will see your belly getting a little smaller.
I hope you take advantage of this exercise to begin your own quest for a firm and flatter abdominal region.
If you enjoyed the information in this article, you will also enjoy the David Grisaffi Walking Guide, which is a complete walking exercise plan that comes FREE with the Firm And Flatten Your Abs program.