Do You Know the Importance of Your Transversus Abdominus, Especially Postpartum?
I vividly remember when my transversus abdominis (TrA) turned back on 8 weeks after delivering my twins. I was blowing my nose in my bathroom and all of a sudden I thought, “There it is! I can feel it again!” It took a little longer than I had anticipated but that muscle got pretty stretched with two babies growing inside me!
The transversus abdominis is the deepest layer of abdominal muscles and it acts as a natural brace in our body. Its muscle fibers go across your abdomen and aid in supporting your spine and pelvis. During pregnancy these muscles get stretched to accommodate for the growing baby or babies. After delivery it can take weeks to be able to feel the muscle again in your own body but that does not mean it’s not working.
I have the advantage of being a physical therapist and knowing how to activate my TrA during pregnancy and what to do postpartum to get it to fire again. Most women don’t know how to do this. I learned how to locate and isolate my TrA with the use of rehabilitative ultrasound imaging (RUSI). It is an invaluable tool since this muscle is deep inside the body and is hard to feel on ourselves.
RUSI uses ultrasound imaging to help locate muscles. It’s like the ultrasounds you get in pregnancy, but we are looking at the muscles in your abdomen instead of your uterus or baby. Once we have located the TrA, we see what happens when you try to tighten your abdominal muscles. If the TrA is not firing correctly we then give you cues/tools to help you to activate it again. During this instruction you can see the muscle on the ultrasound screen and see if you are tightening it or not with different activities like a head lift of leg lift.
We need our TrA to contract when we move our arms and legs in order to support and stabilize our “core”. If the TrA does not tighten during these activities, then it’s like building a house without a foundation. This can further irritate issues such as diastasis recti and low back pain. Once you are able to activate your TrA we then progress you to more challenging tasks like squatting and lifting to make sure it fires in the activities that are important to you. This helps to decrease pain, improve strength and get you back to doing what you enjoy!
Interested in checking this out? Give us a call! We’d love to help! Also, keep an eye out for a class with demonstration to see if you are engaging your TrA with use of rehabilitative ultrasound imaging at our new office location in 2020.
Mara Towne, PT, DPT