Many of us suffer from back pain on a regular basis, especially since a lot of us work from desks in an office and we are glued to computers all day. Often, treat the site of injury after it has happened, and when we are already feeling the pain.
But what if I told you that you could perform simple pre-hab exercise that would prevent you from injuring your lower back in the first place, while creating deep core strength that will help you out in other day-to-day movements as well? These exercises will only take a few minutes out of your day to perform, and they can make a huge difference.
Whether your goal is reducing chronic lower back pain or increasing function, adding exercises for deep core activation to your routine can make a huge difference. Which muscles am I talking about specifically? Your transverse abdominals, also known as your TAs. These muscles are often overlooked in strength and core programs, but they shouldn’t be. I even suggest these exercises to clients who haven’t even had back problems, because it helps with function, core strength as well as injury prevention.
To help you understand how important the transverse abdominals are I want you to try to visualize the TAs as a girdle keeping your whole stomach tucked in. You know when you go to a grocery store and you buy a melon that comes with that mesh on the outside of it. That would be your TAs keeping your stomach tucked in.
How do you find your TAs, you ask?
First you will want to lay flat on your back on the floor. Make sure to also put your feet flat on the floor. Now imagine a straight line that could be drawn between both of your hips. Once you are in this position and visualizing the line then breathe in slowly as much air as you can. Exhale slowly and while you are doing so make sure to concentrate on increasing the tension on this line between your hips. When you do this, tadaaaaa!, you are contracting your transverse abdominals!
Another less complicated way to describe how to perform a TA activation is to:
- Pull your belly button in towards your spine
- Then push your lower back into the ground to get rid of the curve and Kegel
Common TA Activation Exercises
Here are just a few common TA activation exercises that I get my clients to perform.
TA Activation x 20
Hold for 5 seconds, then relax. Repeat for 20 reps.
TA Activation With Leg Lift
Bend one knee as if you are about to do a sit up, and keep the other one straight out in front of you. Perform the TA activation, then lift the straight leg as high as you can go and lower it back to the start. Keep the TA activation the entire 20 per leg, switch legs and repeat for 20 reps.
TA Activation Holds
Do 30-second holds for 6 to 10 minutes. (Hold for 30 seconds, relax for 10, repeat for desired time).
TA Activation Glute Bridges
x 15-30 (lay on ground with your knees bent and arms at your side, keep your head and shoulders on the ground and squeeze your glutes lifting your torso up creating a straight line from your knee to your hips to your shoulders, pause for 1-2s at top and return to starting position, repeat for 15-30 reps).
You can perform these exercises any time and virtually anywhere. All you need is a floor to lay down on. You can do them first thing in am, on your lunch break, after work or even while watching TV.
Add these TA exercises into your strength training routine on a regular basis to prevent injury and create a strong core.