Flatten Your Abdomen Through Stomach Vacuum

Uma Shankari By Uma Shankari, 22nd Nov 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1q5z6yc4/
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Exercise & Fitness

Stomach vacuum is an effective way to work the transversus abdominis muscles that strengthen and shape your abs. Abdominal protrusion or a pot belly is caused by the weakness of the transversus abdominis.

What is "Stomach Vacuum"?

While posing for a photograph you might have sucked in your tummy for a more flattering flat profile. You may be happy to know that this technique, commonly referred to as the "stomach vacuum," is an effective way to work the transversus abdominis, the deepest of the abdominal muscles, and the internal obliques, muscles that strengthen and shape your abs. Abdominal protrusion or a pot belly is caused by the weakness of the transversus abdominis. When abdominal muscles are strong, they help stabilize the pelvis and lumbar spine when the hips flex, and thus prevent an increase in lumbar lordosis.

Understanding The Abdominal Muscles

The abdominal organs are covered by a membrane called peritoneum and this is covered by large sheaths of muscles arranged in layers with fibers running in different directions. Together they are responsible for trunk flexion, rotation, lateral bending, and stability.

Rectus abdominis muscles are the six pack muscles every training aspirant dreams about. It is responsible for flexing the lumbar spine and helps to maintain the curvature of the lower spine.

The internal and external obliques run down the side of the abdomen and help you bend and rotate at the sides.

The transversus abdominus and lumbar multifidus are the inner abdominal muscles. These muscles lie beneath the rectus abdominus and external obliques.

Transversus abdominis muscles run horizontally. They encircle your body like a girdle and support the internal organs of the abdomen. When you push the breath out of the system forcefully and flatten the stomach, you are using transversus abdominis. During childbirth, and while passing stools or urine, you use these muscles.

If you look at the muscles from the sides inward, the external obliques come first, followed by the internal obliques and the transverse abdominis. These muscles extend from the vertebral column at the back, the lower ribs above and the pubis bone below. These fibers all merge toward the midline, where they surround the rectus abdominis. The fibers of the external obliques are directed downward and forward along the outer sides of the cavity. The internal obliques cross upward and forward and the transverse abdominis contract horizontally forward. The crisscrossing of muscles coming from different directions makes the abdominal walls strong.

The strengthening of the abdominal muscles is what is often referred as core stability, and forms the foundation of pilates. The first lessons in pilates begin with instructions of how to find the neutral spine position. Neutral refers to the natural curvature of the spine. A neutral spine is neither rounded forward nor arched back too much. Neutral spine is the natural position of the spine when all 3 curves of the spine – cervical (neck), thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower) – are present and in good alignment.

Pulling the abs in is usually done with a neutral spine.

How to perform stomach vacuum:

Lying on the floor, exhale completely, forcing all the air out of the lungs/ diaphragm with your abdominal muscles. Next, instead of inhaling, draw your bellybutton inward, toward the spine. Start sucking in just above the pubic bone and progress upwards to pulling the belly button to the spine, and then through the upper abdominal area till you feel your abs almost touching your spine. This will contract your transversus abdominis. Practice holding this position for longer and longer periods of time.

Begin with the lying stomach vacuum and progress over time to the standing, sitting and, finally, kneeling variations.

After you have practiced sufficiently the exercise lying down on the back, practice in the standing position. Stand upright and place your hands on your hips, and exhale all the air out of your lungs, completely. Expand your chest and at the same time, pull in your stomach so that a cavity is created just below your rib cage. Try to expand your chest and pull in your stomach even more. Visualize trying to touch your navel to your backbone. Hold this position for a couple of seconds and relax.

You can also practice engaging your ab muscles when you sit. Simply pull in your belly button towards your spine and hold. Release it and then repeat. You can do this all day.

You can use the stomach vacuum when doing your regular abdominal work. Simply do this by pulling in your stomach as far as you can and flex your groin muscles, as if you are trying to stop the flow of urine.

The best thing about stomach vacuum is that this can be done unobtrusively and almost anywhere.

Tags

Ab Exercise, Core Stability, Exercise, Exercising The Transversus Abdominis, Flat Abs, Neutral Spine, Pilates, Transversus Abdominis

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author avatar Uma Shankari
I write on society, relationships, travel, health, nutrition and fitness.
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