The Powerhouse. ( Core Muscle Review ) The Transverse Abdominus


Photos Courtesy of The Muscle System Pro III

This is an explanation of the muscles that define the core and secondary muscles that assist in a balanced musculo-skeletal structure. If there is one thing I’ve found, it is that Pilates works to shape and balance the body/frame by aligning from top to bottom, front to back, and from the inside out. One can enjoy length, balance, stamina, poise and an internal strength that makes one feel wildly in-tune with nature. In my teachings, I frequently talk about the core muscles. So I wanted to review what muscles constitute the powerhouse. In order not to overwhelming my clients or myself, I’ll introduce them over time to give you a chance to digest the material. So you can look forward to reading several articles pertaining to the powerhouse muscles. I will be using powerhouse and core muscles interchangeably through out this discussion.

We will start with the transverse abdominius. This muscle is the deepest of the abdominal trio. It is similar to a girdle as it wraps from the pubis bone around the hips (illiac crest, love handles )and attaches into the thoro-columbar aponerousous, which is a large flat tendon that starts at your sacrum up into your back. Other muscles also attach to this structure, like the lattisums dorsi (lats). The TVA also attaches well around the ribcage starting in from the xyphoid process around the anterior 8th rib and around back to the 12th rib.

So the TVA attaches from the front of the body all around to the back. Now this fact is very important. It’s right in the middle of the body, attaches to the hips inferiorly and attaches to the ribs superiorly front and back. The implications of this connection are tremendous! Here we have a muscle that can control the relationship we have with the upper and lower parts of our bodies. If this connection is loose and not controlled the ability for us to maintain an erect balanced posture are lessened. The stronger this connection the better our posture and control can be.

We find that head , shoulders, ribcage, hip, knee and foot alignment is so important in controlling posture. Controlling the hips and ribcage generally allow for alignment of the head and shoulder and knees and feet. Again working from the inside out. This is the first muscle I attempt for my students to understand and access. First by breathing! You can access the transverse-abdominus quite readily by doing costal-breathing, which is characterized by the ability to inhale and pull the belly-button in and up and exhale pushing the belly button back towards the spine. During both phases of breathing there is an action happening at the belly button. The rib cage expands like an accordion during the inhalation and folds like an accordion upon exhalation. To add just another part to the conversation, the transvere abdominus’s main action is to hold the contents of the abdomen in. That is the organs and the rest of the stuff within the abdominal cavity. The organs were meant to hold the contents of the abdominal cavity into place. Our organs don’t like it when they are unsupported .

transverse small
Photos Courtesy of The Muscle System Pro III
(from left to right fig 1-4)

Next the external and internal obliques here we come!

Written by
Scott Miller
Certified Pilates Instructor
Licensed Massage Practitioner
Massage Educator

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