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Transverse Abdominal Muscle

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Updated May 09, 2011

Definition: The transverse abdominal muscle is the deepest of the 6 abdominal muscles. It extends between the ribs and the hips. The transverse abdominal muscle wraps around the center of the trunk from front to back; therefore, it contains and supports the organs located there. The fibers of this muscle run horizontally, just like a back support belt would be worn.

The transverse abdominal muscle is a breathing muscle, assisting the exhalation by bringing the bottom of the ribcage closer to the spine, which forces air out of the lungs.

The transverse abdominal muscle provides stability to the trunk and the organs located there. It also provides stability to the trunk during lateral flexion.

In the front the transverse abdominal muscle attaches to the linea alba. The linea alba tends to lose its strength during pregnancy. Strengthening the transverse abdominal muscle after the baby is born may be a good way to restore integrity to the linea alba. Also, when the linea alba is weak, lordosis is increased.

One of the things that makes Pilates a unique system of exercises is its attention to the transverse abdominal muscle and its capacity to stabilize the trunk. You can get a feeling for how this muscle works if you cough or laugh, paying attention to the abdominal area of your trunk as you do.

Created on November 21, 2005
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