The PILATES theme of the week is THE TRANSVERSE ABDOMINIS MUSCLE:
The transverse abdominis muscle is your natural girdle or corset.
Transverse means across and abdominis comes from the Latin word abdere which means to stow away. From this we can deduce that the function of the transverse abdominis muscle is to stow away the abdominal contents It also helps to stabilise the lumbar spine or low back.
As the transverse abdominis muscle contracts the low back flattens. In standing this muscle helps to correct your posture from a lordotic (pear) or sway (banana) posture to the ideal posture. This contraction should be about 30% of maximum effort. However, it may take 150% mental effort to remember to activate this muscle all day, every day!
In Pilates we use the transverse abdominis muscle to flatten the low back onto the mat (imprint) and to maintain a flat back in other positions such as on all fours, lying on our side or front.
The transverse abdominis muscle is a postural muscle which should be active all day to gently support our abdominal contents and our low back. To engage the transverse abdominis muscle think of flattening your stomach, pulling in your naval or tightening your belt.
During Pilates this week remember to engage your transverse abdominis muscle and practice using this muscle all day to flatten and support your low back.