Transverse Abdominal Muscle

Definition

Diagram of a skeleton with the transverse abdominal muscle.
Diagram of a skeleton with the transverse abdominal muscle.. MedicalRF.com / MedicalRF.com / Getty Images

Transverse Abdominal Muscle Definition

The transverse abdominal muscle is the deepest of the 6 abdominal muscles. It extends between the ribs and the hips, wrapping around the trunk from front to back.  The fibers of this muscle run horizontally, just like a back support belt would be worn. In this way, along with providing postural support, the transverse abdominal muscle helps to contain and support the organs located inside the trunk.

Transverse Abdominal Muscle Origin

The transverse abdominal muscle originates in several places.  It interdigitates with your diaphram muscle, which is the principle muscle of breathing, and it attaches to the inside surface of your lower six ribs.  In back, it connects to the thoracacolumbar fascia.

In front, the transverse abdominal muscle connects to the front part of the inside of the hip bone (on its inner surface) as well as the lateral (lateral means towards the outside) 1/3 part of the inguinal ligament.  The inguinal ligament is a thin strap of connective tissue that extends from the front of the hip bone, and attaches onto the pubic symphysis joint.

Transverse Abdominal Muscle Origin

The transverse abdominal muscle inserts onto the xiphoid process, (which is a small bone that hangs down from the bottom of your breastbone) the linea alba, (a tendon that runs vertically from ribs to pelvis and separates the right and left sides of the rectus abdominus muscle) and the pubic symphysis joint.

Transverse Abdominal Muscle Actions

By flattening the abdominal wall, the transverse abdominal muscle provides stability to the trunk and support for the organs located there. The transverse abdominal muscle may also assist with exhalation by compression the abdominal organs and increasing pressure in the lungs.

 

The Transverse Ab and the Linea Alba

As mentioned above, 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.

Transverse Abdominal Muscle, Your Core and Pilates

One of the things that made Pilates a unique system of exercises is the attention paid to the transverse abdominal muscle - especially its capacity to flatten the abdomen and 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.

While Pilates was perhaps the first method to emphasize engaging and using the transverse abdominal muscle for core stability, in recent decades the notion has caught on.  Nowadays, most personal trainers, physical therapists and exercise systems place at least some attention on working the deep abdominal muscles, which, of course, includes the transverse.

 

If you'd like to try to find and activate your TA muscle (as the transverse abdominal muscle is often called for short,) check out this article:  How to Activate Your Deep Core

Sources

Kendall, Florence Peterson, McCreary, Elizabeth Kendall, and Provance, Patricia Geise. Muscles Testing and Function with Posture and Pain. 3rd. Baltimore, Maryland: Williams & Wilkins, 1983.

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