Find Your Abs in 5 Steps

Engaging abdominal muscles are important for spinal support.  It is helpful to understand which abdominal muscles are most effective to engage for low back health.

Specific abdominal muscles are most effective in lowering tension in your lower spine and others lengthen your upper spine. 

The transverses, help your lengthen your lower spine. They are the weaker abdominal muscles and can be difficult to isolate. Behind the transverses muscles is the top of your sacrum (the flat bone at the base of your spine) and when you draw them in your sacrum lengthens, reducing low back compression.

To begin to find them, try this:

  1. Stand with your feet straight ahead, about hip width apart.
  2. Become aware of your low back and notice if there is any tension.
  3. Now, pretend you are trying to zip up tight jeans and slowly draw your belly in about a thumbprint below your navel.
  4. Keep your buttocks and the rest of your body  relaxed.  Try to only isolate your abs and do not over effort.
  5. Slowly draw them in, and then release them a few times.

Did you feel any difference in you low back when you activated them?  Let me know in the comments below what you noticed.  If you did not notice anything, keep practicing.

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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5 Steps to Avoid Low Back Pain

How do you protect your low back from pain and discomfort?  Even if you have never had back problems, the back is the most susceptible and vulnerable part of your body to strain and pain.

There are two important areas in your body that you need to be aware of:

Sacrum: The heavy, flat triangular shaped bone at the base of your spine

Sitting Bones: As part of your pelvis, these are the bones you feel when you sit. If you feel the bottom of your butt, they are just under your skin.

Learning how to bend is important.  To help you understand, think of your body as having angles and your joints as hinges.

Here are 5 simple steps:

  1. Bend your knees
  2. Hinge at your hips
  3. Lengthen your sitting bones out behind you
  4. Keep your low back to be flat, and that includes your sacrum.
  5. If you are lifting something heavy, draw in your abdominals (they are an inch below your navel) toward your spine.

Give this technique a try.  You can practice in the mirror and see if when you bend this way, your low back stays flat.  Let me know how it feels and it you found this helpful in the comments below.  If you have questions, please contact me.

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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