Do you suffer from low back pain? Is your balance a little off? Is your mother always telling you to sit up straight? You might have a weak or malfunctioning TVA muscle.

The body has four main abdominal muscles. One of which will be the centre of this post. The Transverse Abdominis (TVA) muscle is the main stabilizer for the core and lower back. The TVA wraps horizontally from the back of the body to the front. In addition to stabilizing the core and maintaining tone in the abdominal organs, the TVA is responsible for deep breathing during fitness endeavours, throwing up, coughing, defecating, and laboured and/or forced exhalation (i.e. blowing up balloons). Pushing out an exhalation is a great way to feel your TVA muscles working.

Most body movement is generated from the core. This means that weak TVA function can virtually effect everything you do. Unfortunately, it is believed that most people have inadequate Transverse Abdominis function. Weak TVA function can be the root cause of low back pain, poor posture, bad balance, and general weakness.

In order to strengthen a muscle, you’re brain must be able to consciously activate it. Try to contract your TVA. Lie on your back or side with your spine in a neutral posture, (gentle curve in your low back). Try the following mental cues to produce an isolated TVA contraction:

– Imagine a line that connects the inside of your two pelvic bones (front of hips). Think about
connecting, or drawing the muscle, along this line as if closing two book covers.

– Contract your pelvic floor by drawing the muscles from behind your pubic bone to your tail
bone and the left and right sides of your pelvic floor together and then like a draw string bag,
gently draw the entire pelvic floor up.

– In side-lying – gently lift your lower belly up away from your pubic bone

Practice contracting your TVA muscle at home. Once you think you’ve got the hang of it, let’s put it to the test! Book in for a reassessment or PT and have one of our trainers test your Transverse Abdominis function.

Once you’ve passed the test, its time to strengthen your TVA. Give the following exercises a
try:

Glute/hip bridges

Bicycle kicks

Planks

Hollow rocks

Emilee Bulleid