As you’re reading this, use your deep abdominal muscles to draw your navel toward your spine. Got it? Okay, now hold it. Keep holding it. Breathe as you hold it. Now that you’ve engaged it, keep that navel-to-spine solidity the whole time you’re reading this post.
That’s your TVA, your transverse abdominis muscle, the deepest layer of abs you have. It tends to get neglected, but having a strong TVA pretty much makes everything you do better.
The TVA stabilizes the pelvis and thoracic spine, an area that tends to be involved in much of what we do–lifting, lowering, reaching, throwing, walking, running. Without the protective corset of an engaged TVA, your arms and legs have no solid foundation to work with and your movement becomes inefficient and could injure you.
In its best shape, the TVA fires tiny fractions of a second before you even move your extremities. (Amazing or what?) But their ability to do this is bolstered by their having good tone in the first place. And often, they don’t.
Still holding? GOOD!
Doing plank is a great way to tone your deep abs. Get on your elbows and toes. Keep a neutral spine–don’t let your butt stick up or sag. Time yourself and see how long you can hold it. Then aim to add a few seconds every day.
Keep checking in with your TVA throughout the day. An engaged TVA makes everything better.