How strengthening your abdominals can reduce risk of back injury and pain.
- Recent research done by physiotherapists at the University of Queensland demonstrates that strengthening the transversus abdominus muscle and deep muscles of the lower back can reduce pain, and improve functional capacity in individuals suffering lower back pain.
- The transversus abdominus is often the forgotten muscle of the abdominals. It is the deepest layer of the abdominals and often gets left out in gym and aerobics programs that concentrate on the rectus abdominus (“six pack”) and obliques. The transversus abdominus runs horizontally across the stomach, making attachments to the spine and pelvis via fascia other musculature, therefore forming your own natural back brace. Contracting this muscle is like tightening up your back brace and therefore offers your spine support and controls the movement of the vertebrae. This is particularly important during activities such as bending and lifting.
- Studies performed at the University of Queensland showed that people with ongoing back pain were unable to contract their transversus abdominus muscle. Teaching these people to activate their transversus abdominus by giving them feedback from ultrasound diagnostic equipment helped to reduce their back pain.
- These exercises are now being widely taught to sports people in, for example, athletics and Australian Rules football. Not only does it reduce their risk of back injury but the stabilising effects can help them to run faster and kick further.
Teaching people how to strengthen this muscle is not difficult. See your physiotherapist if you have back pain, or would like to benefit from the other effects of a strong, flat stomach.