Core muscles include all the abdominal muscles. However, the Transverse Abdominal muscle (TA ) is the heart of the core muscles. This muscle attaches to the spine thru thoracolumbar fascia and in the front attaches to the lower ribs, pelvis and the middle section of the abdomen. TA muscle looks like a mini jacket supporting the spine and abdominal wall.
A strong TA muscle:
- Helps to have an elongated and upright spine vs. a slouched spine
- Helps the cervical and thoracic spine to be aligned in an upright position
- Provides strength and balance along the spine
- Improves the overall Dynamic balance
Correct Activation of TA Muscle
Correct activation of the TA muscle requires good instruction for contracting the muscles in a horizontal manner. Many therapists and personal trainers teach posterior pelvic tilt (or pulling the belly button in) as a way to activate the TA. This method only activates the lower part of TA but not the middle and upper sections of this large muscle.
The complete activation of the TA muscle occurs when all the sections of this muscle are pulled to the center horizontally: below the belly button, at the belly button, and above the belly button at the lower rib cage. The full contraction of TA muscle would feel like you are trying to zip up a tight jacket from below belly button to lower rib cage.
It is important to note that maintaining the activation of the TA muscle throughout any exercises for strengthening it is very essential.
A few great exercises to activate your TA
The following exercises are more advanced and correct instructions for sustaining a good form is necessary.
Plank (on elbow or hands)
Bird Dog (on hands and knees extending the arm and opposite leg)