You will hear me mention the Transversus Abdominis (TVA) and Pelvic floor throughout my Pilates lessons. Both these muscles are very important in Pilates and make up a major part of the 'core' alongside muscles such as the Obliques, Multifidus, Erector Spinae and the Rectus Abdominis. The TVA is the deepest innermost layer of all abdominal muscles and is located underneath your Rectus Abdominis (the six-pack stomach muscle) Just training the superficial abdominal muscles won't give you the flat, toned stomach you want.
Role of the TVA
When activated correctly the TVA acts like a back brace that stabilizes the spine and provides support to the lower back. When the muscle is weak problems such as injury's to the lumbar spine can occur. When the muscle is well toned it helps to maintain good posture. Its important to remember that our spines are not strong! in fact if you removed them from the supporting network of muscles, the spine would buckle under a mere 5ibs of pressure!
It is thought that this muscle, due to its unique orientation, is similar to a corset as it wraps itself around the abdomen and lower back. So to get that slender waist dont over look this muscle!
From the diagram you can see the vast size of this muscle which will help you to understand its importance. Put it this way the TVA is like the 'Spanx' of the abdominal muscles.
How to engage your TVA
Make sure that you are standing tall with shoulders down your back and pelvis in neutral, hip bones facing forward. Firstly its good to know which muscle you are engaging. To find your TVA press your finger tips in below your ribcage and cough. The muscle you can feel contract is your TVA. Now try to activate that muscle without coughing. There are a few images that you can use to help you with this.
-Imagine trying to squeeze yourself into a pair of tight jeans
-Imagine drawing your belly button in towards your spine
-Imagine a wide belt slung round your waist, tighten it up by a few holes
-Imagine Brad or Angelina! walking into the room!!
Pilates is a great way to strengthen and tone this muscle.