Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Transverse Abdominals- The Real Core

Returning to running after pregnancy has been an amazing journey. Due to a previous back injury, which was just resolved in 2016, I was nervous and anxious about returning to running postpartum. To my delight, re-gaining my fitness has been relatively straight forward ( as much as it can be with a newborn). A large part of my success has to do with making sure I did my core stability exercise. No, I'm not talking about planks, crunches, Russian twists, etc. I'm talking about real core stability, the transverse abdominals (TrA). I know, I always mention the TrA but these muscles literally held me together. 

Core stability is important to provide a stable center for the legs to move. There are a lot of core exercises, however the muscles which provide stability can be easily compensated for by other stronger abdominal muscles. The muscles which help provide core stability is the transverse abdominal muscles. They are the deepest layer of the abdominal muscles. When these muscles are engaged it provides a stable core allowing proper mechanics of the legs. People have a tendency to contract all of their abdominals too hard, over shooting the TrA. Contraction of the TrA requires a gentle squeezing of the musculature of the lower abs. Also, we think of abs as one unit, these muscles function separately left and right. So one side can be weaker then the other side. 

One of my 1st runs with the stroller... Want a workout?!

I incorporated these exercises while pregnant to maintain my core strength and minimize diastasis rectus. I was able to resumed these exercises within 3 days post partum (consult with your physician post c-section). I was able to return to running 1 month post partum. The best news of all, I didn't have the dreaded diastasis rectus. 

Here are the basic exercise to engage the transverse abdominals. I know where are the 3D exercises? There is a time for 3D functional exercises. To activate the TrA will allow the 3D exercises to work better. 
Feel the TrA on the inside of the pelvic bone

To best place to feel the transverse abdominals contraction is right to the inside of the pelvic bones at the bony marker called anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS). To contract the TrA imagine those bones coming together. Another cue is to pretend to put on a pair of pants that are just slightly too small. 


Marches - Lay on your back with knees bent. Tighten your TrA.  Lift one leg up while keeping your abs contracted. Return to resting position and switch sides. Key is to not let pelvis down towards ground. 3 sets of 10.

Fall outs - Lay on your back with knees bent. Tighten your TrA. Let one knee fall to the side, then return to neutral. Alternate legs. perform 3 sets of 10. 

Bridges - Lay on your back with knees bent. Tighten your lower abs. Weight shifted towards the forefoot ( heels remain on the ground) Lift pelvis off the ground. Hold 10 seconds perform 10- 15 times.

Heel slides - Lay on your back with knees bent. Tighten your lower abs. Slide one leg straight and return to neutral. Alternate legs. 1-2 sets of 15. Start with sliding your heel on the ground then progress to keeping the leg up. 

Performing exercises with intent and control will lay the foundation for proper mechanics while running. Good activation of theTrA muscles will minimize injury for not only your back but also your legs.
Let's get the transverse abdominals activated!

1 comment:

  1. I bet you can't guess what muscle in your body is the muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and burns fat.

    If this "hidden" super powerful primal muscle is healthy, we are healthy.