Transverse Abdominus (TVA)
Oh boy, oh boy. Starting with the BIGGIE.
What is it? The deepest of our four abdominal muscles, the transverse abdominus muscle, or TVA, wraps around the spine and is sometimes referred to as the “natural corset” of the body. Where is it? It runs from the navel up to the lower rib cage, attaching on the rib cage and the crest of the pelvis.
What does it do? The TVA is involved with functions relating to breathing and straining, for example:
Deep exhalation during exercise and sport
Coughing, vomiting or defecating
Blowing into a wind instrument or blowing up a balloon
It also helps the abdominal organs remain in place, and stabilises the pelvis and lower part of the spine, in particular when moving the limbs.
How do I activate it?
You can feel it when your hip bones draw together slightly as you engage your belly muscles. If you place your fingers just inside your hip bones at the front of your pelvis and begin to raise your chest from the floor you'll feel the TVA engaging.
Why do we need it?
PT's often use exercises that work the TVA to help clients develop their core stability. Having a strong core can reduce the likelihood of injuries and alleviate back pain, as well as allowing for better movement, posture and balance. It's our first step in stabilising the spine before we begin our Pilates moves.