Why do Pilates teachers tell me to scoop my abs?

Have you ever wondered why all this fuss about “scooping” of the abdominals?

How exactly are you supposed to bring the Abs In and Up anyhow?

Unlike many other forms of workout, Pilates focuses on the deepest most innermost layer of your abdominal muscles, the Transverse abdominis. This muscle is activated when breathing but most importantly it serves to hold us in. Some even jokingly call it the Spanx of your abdominal muscles as it is the muscle that keeps our center in place.

You know when you see a photo of someone wearing a big belt around their waist for lifting heavy weights? This is mimicking the Transverse abdominis or TVA. Numerous studies and research have correlated that lack of activation in the transverse abdominal muscle can contribute to low back pain. Makes sense then that the doctor gives us a similar style of belt when we have low back injuries. It’s a reminder for us to focus on strengthening the core and the TVA which we get to through our routine Pilates practice.

The TVA is a major postural muscle that helps our spine staying strong and supported.

When you activate your deepest abdominals, you strengthen your body, you help all the other more superficial muscles work correctly, and you support a healthy spine.

Pulling the low abdominals in and up as a strong cue during your Pilates workout, helps you pay attention to that action. It gives your mind a directive on finding the TVA if and when you are disconnected from it.
Just remember before lifting a heavy weight to pull your low abdominals in. You will protect your precious spine by activating your TVA.

Thank you to Viviana for contributing to this week’s Teaching Cue.

Let us help you find your transverse abdominis at the studio!

From the Ground Up

From the Ground Up

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