Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ab Muscles

Strong abdominals can turn an average athlete into an all-star; they provide support for throwing motions, stability and balance for jumping/lunging movements, and stamina for endurance sports. And ab perform an invaluable function in everyday life; they support the spine and allow us to bend. Combine conditioned with regular stretching for the hamstrings and lower back, and you’ll have a strong, healthy spine and excellent posture. An amazing $80 billion is spent every year on medical care for the treatment of problems associated with low back pain. So even if you never want to wear a midriff-baring top, there are plenty of sensible reasons for you to take care of your ab.

The abdominal region is composed of four muscles groups: the rectus abdominis, the external and internal obliques, and the transverse abdominis. The chart below explains each muscle’s location and function. Knowing these simple facts about your anatomy will help you with visualization during your ab workout so you get the most out of each exercise.

Muscle: Rectus abdominis
Location: The rectus abdominis runs the length of the torso from the pubic bone to mid-chest.
Function: Used for flexion: pulls the torso toward the hips and vice versa; responsible for tilt of pelvis.
Sports: Good for sports requiring running, jumping, and lifting.

Muscle: External oblique
Location: The external oblique runs diagonally to the rectus abdominis; it forms a V when viewed from the front.
Function: Aids in twisting at the waist: left external is active when you twist to the right (and vice versa).
Sports: Improves performance in golf, boxing, tennis, baseball, and any other sport that require trunk rotation.

Muscle: Internal oblique
Location: The internal oblique lies underneath the external oblique and runs diagonally in the opposite direction.
Function: Aids in twisting the torso: left internal is active when you twist to the left, aiding the right external oblique (and vice versa).
Sports: Like the external obliques, good for sports that require rotation: skiing, paddling, rowing, etc.

Muscle: Transverse abdominis
Location: The transverse abdominis runs horizontally across the abdominal wall and underneath the obliques; this is the muscle you use to “suck in your stomach.”
Function: Primarily responsible for helping the lungs breathe: pulls the abdominal wall inward to force air exhalation.
Sports: Enhances performance in sports that require short, powerful bursts: football, karate, soccer, hockey, shot put.