Transversus Abdominis - Our Body’s Weight Lifting Belt - Nose Creek Sport Physiotherapy
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Transversus Abdominis – Our Body’s Weight Lifting Belt

Transversus abdominis is located around the front and sides of the abdomen between the lower ribs and top of the pelvis.  It is the innermost abdominal muscle, and functions like a girdle or the body’s natural weight lifting belt.

When it contracts the waist narrows slightly and the lower abdomen flattens.  The function of the transverses is to stabilize the body as we move.  This function is critical in order to reduce the wear and tear on the joints that would occur daily if they were unstabilized.  Normally the transversus pre-contracts prior to extremity movement in order to stabilize the torso.

Changes in our Transversus Abdominis


Changes in recruitment of the transversus can occur.  For example, a person with low back pain can experience a delay in the onset of transversus contraction, muscle atrophy, and a change in the structure of the muscle fibers which makes them less effective at their job of stabilization.
If this muscle inhibition is not corrected, this dysfunction will remain even after a person has recovered.  Dysfunctional stabilization muscles contribute to re-injury and new injuries.

Retraining The Muscles

Retraining our core muscles takes focus and practice.  In order to retrain and condition transversus, follow these steps.

  1.  Learn to contract transversus without contracting other muscles.
  2.  Perform transversus exercises to increase the endurance of this muscle.
  3. Incorporate transversus contraction into daily life activities.

We can teach you the following techniques:

Step 1: Learning to contract Transversus

This requires lying on your back or in a 4-point kneeling position. Let your abdomen relax and breathe normally through your belly. This contraction exercise helps you learn how to contract transversus without contracting other muscles.

Step 2: Performing Transversus Exercises

When performing transversus exercises we need to follow very specific guidelines.

These include:

  1. Slowly generate force in the muscle
  2.  Continue to breathe, and strive to breathe through the abdomen rather than through the chest
  3.  Hold the contraction for 10 seconds
  4.  Focus on maintaining the contraction and avoid rotation of the pelvis
  5.  Use a low load (using small, slow movements of the arms or legs instead of large fast movements or weights)

Step 3: Exercise Progression

Once the basic transversus contraction has been mastered, certain exercises are used for optimal recovery.  Each progression begins with a transverses contraction, which is held throughout the movement.

Step 4: Incorporate into other Activities

The final step is using our transversus contraction when we do regular life activities. Each time we get out of our chair, lift, bend or reach we should first contract transversus.  The goal is to teach the body to resume its normal stabilization strategy of contracting transversus prior to movement.

If you would like to go through the complete retraining and rehabilitation program, give us a call (403) 275-7728.

Blair Schachterle BScPT, Dip Manip PT, Dip Sport PT, FCAMPT, CGIMS

Blair Schachterle BScPT, Dip Manip PT, Dip Sport PT, FCAMPT, CGIMS

Blair has been a Physiotherapist at Nose Creek Sport Physiotherapy since 2001. Blair graduated from the University of Alberta with a BScPT in 1992. He has focused on Orthopaedic Manual Therapy and Sport Therapy. Blair completed his Sport Therapy Diploma in 1997, and his Advanced Manual and Manipulative Diploma in 1998. Blair is also certified for IMS (Intramuscular Stimulation) Dry Needling. Blair has a keen interest in active rehabilitation of recent and chronic, spinal and peripheral, joint and muscle injuries. He enjoys treating upper neck pain that is associated with cervical tension headaches, sciatica (pinched nerve in lower back), shoulder injuries and traumatic knee injuries. Blair previously served for 6 years as the Executive Chair of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Therapy (CAMPT).

Blair balances his busy professional life by staying active. He enjoys cycling, swimming, working out, hiking, camping and snowboarding, depending on the season. Blair shares his free time with his wife, son and daughter outside on the weekends. He has learned to enjoy the journey, as life really is too short.
Blair Schachterle BScPT, Dip Manip PT, Dip Sport PT, FCAMPT, CGIMS

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