It’s almost swimsuit season. It’s about now when we scramble to flatten our tummies and shrink our thighs before floating off to Fire Island or jumping on a cruise.
Let’s talk briefly about these crazy abs! While there are several ab muscles meant for moving your bones and changing your spinal shape (obliques and rectus abdominis), there is a whole muscle solely for the purpose of holding it all up and in. The Transverse Abdominis, plainly said, wraps from the back portion of our sides to the middle lower attachment of the ribs. It is often described as a corset.
We use this muscle subliminally in exhalation and prior to moving the rest of our body (stabilizing). But, given conscious effort, the transverse can help with more than just stabilizing the spine and pelvis.
Imagine squeezing a freshly-opened tube of toothpaste. The toothpaste has nowhere to go except out the top. The amount of contents in our abdomen does not change and therefore, when engaging our transverse and narrowing our waist, we MUST change shape, and grow taller. “Sucking in” is actually an opportunity to find space in your spine and grow an inch or two.
I challenge you to start with this deep, interesting muscle the next time your Pilates or any fitness instructor tells you to “grow taller”. I challenge you to grow taller the next time someone tells you to “engage your abs”. The two go hand in hand for most exercises with a neutral spine. Create the extra space with stability. The benefits of strengthening your Transverse Abdominus will extend beyond being a skinny Miami bitch; you will be preventing injury and creating stability and flexibility for all kinds of movement.