You can learn how to strengthen your abs to avoid straining your lower back and neck when doing ab exercises and other lifting movements.
What is abdominal muscle training?
Abdominal strengthening occurs when you contract the muscles around your spine to create a stiff midsection. This stiffening protects your spine from movement that could damage or injure it. As your nervous system, and more specifically your spinal cord and the nerves that flow from it, pass through your vertebrae, it is very important to protect your spine from positions that could damage it. The most common movements that cause injury to your spine are loaded spinal flexion and loaded spinal flexion with rotation.
To get a better idea of ab support in action, think of it as creating a rigid muscular corset, which protects your back and nervous system. This is especially important when moving heavy loads or performing explosive movements that generate a lot of force.
Core training is something you can practice and perfect with repetition. The ultimate goal is to be able to unconsciously create intra-abdominal pressure with abdominal sheathing.
Muscles used for abdominal sheathing
The core muscles are:
– the transversus abdominis
– internal and external obliques
– the quadratus lumborum
– spinal erectors
– rectus abdominis muscle
These muscles create intra-abdominal pressure to keep your spine in a safe, neutral position.
What are the benefits of abdominal muscle training?
Strong core muscles are essential for performing daily tasks and activities. To strengthen these muscles, experts often recommend doing abdominal exercises several times a week.
When done correctly, ab exercises can help tighten and tone your midsection and reduce your risk of injury. But if you don’t use the right form, you may suffer from the areas you are trying to protect.
Lift objects safely and more efficiently
Learning to strengthen your core will allow you to perform everyday tasks and movements safely and more efficiently. The extent to which we need to strengthen our abdomen depends on the demand of the movement we are performing. For example, the amount of strengthening needed to bend down and pick up a shoe will be very different from the amount of strengthening needed to bend down and lift 20kg. Therefore, we are still creating some level of abdominal strengthening, but the activity requires a different level of intensity.
Engage more abdominal muscles
A study compared the effects of digging exercises and bracing exercises in middle-aged women and found that performing abdominal bracing exercises, which can contract both deep and superficial muscles, is more effective in activating the abdominal muscles. In comparison, digging exercises only contract the deep muscles.
Improving the form and gait of runners
For runners, using the core method to activate the abdominal muscles can help support the lower back if the pelvis tilts excessively while running.
Good preparation for contact sports
In addition to being beneficial when performing heavy exercises, abdominal restraint is a useful strategy to brace for impact. For example, increasing core stiffness is useful for contact sports such as football, rugby or martial arts.
Can be used in most activities
The great thing about abdominal support is that you can do it during almost any exercise or daily activity that requires you to protect your spine.
How to do abdominal exercises?
Now that you understand the importance of abdominal compression, it’s time to apply this knowledge and learn how to perform this movement. The abdominal sheathing technique consists of two basic steps. You can practice these steps in many positions.
Step 1: Deep Inhale
Inhale deeply as your chest expands.
– Standing or lying down, inhale using your diaphragm, preferably breathing through your nose, expanding your rib cage.
– The volume of inspiration depends on the activity for which you are preparing. For example, when performing a high-intensity movement like a heavy deadlift, you should inhale about 70% of your total lung capacity. But if you perform a less strenuous movement, such as bending down to pick up your backpack, you only need to inhale a small amount of air, about 5-10% of your total lung capacity.
– You usually don’t need to consciously think about strengthening your core to perform low-intensity movements because your body does it automatically.
Step 2: Contract the abdominal muscles
Create rigidity by contracting all of your abdominal muscles.
– To create stiffness in all the muscles surrounding your abdomen, pull your rib cage down. Imagine that you are creating a rigid muscular corset, which protects your back and your nervous system. Tighten your abdomen by pulling your navel towards your spine. Remember to breathe as you do this.
– As for the first stage, you must adapt the intensity of the contraction of your trunk to the activity you are practicing. For example, if you are performing a heavy deadlift, you will want to contract the core muscles as much as possible. But if you are lifting a backpack, you can perform a low intensity contraction, for example 5% of the intensity of the contraction.
Progression of abdominal contraction
To perform abdominal sheathing, start in a supine position. Then, once mastered the movement in lying position, move to the position of the hands and knees. After learning the strengthening technique in this position, perform a static squat while strengthening the abdominal muscles.
Exercises on which to use the abdominal plank
Again, the abdominal trainer can be used in all kinds of exercises and everyday activities where you want to support and protect your back.
In the gym, focus on strengthening your abs before doing exercises such as:
– hand support
You can also practice abdominal core training by performing basic exercises such as
– the side boards
– bird dogs (alternating arm and leg lifting exercise)
– pelvic floor exercises
Practicing abdominal restraint while exercising or performing daily tasks such as heavy lifting can help reduce strain on your neck and lower back. It can also protect those injury-prone areas. While contracting your abs may feel uncomfortable when you get used to it, it’s not normal to feel discomfort or pain. If you experience sharp pain or find this movement extremely uncomfortable, stop what you are doing and see a physical therapist. He can help you repeat the steps and watch you do the push-up motion while performing other exercises.