We’ve all seen cartoons of heavyset men sucking in their big guts and holding them in to impress the ladies. As a man, I don’t know whether the impression part actually works, but as a massage therapist I can tell you about the muscles employed to achieve this instant thinning effect.
The muscles we use to suck in the abdomen are called the Transverse Abdominis. They are located on the front and each side of the abdomen and are deeper than all other abdominal muscles. Unlike most other skeletal muscles, the Transverse Abdominis are not meant to move bones. Their function is to support and stabilize, and thus they are critical to our bodies’ overall well being.
The Transverse Abdominis, also known as “corset muscles”, have numerous important functions. They support the abdominal wall, wrap around the ribs and internal organs and hold them in place. They also stabilize the lumbar spine and add strength to the front of the abdomen.
Their important feature of the Transvers Abdominis is that they can be contracted voluntarily, which not only makes it possible to suck in the gut at will, but more importantly to aid forced exhalation, like when playing a wind instrument or blowing a balloon. In this capacity these muscles also function to increase the intra-abdominal pressure, which helps to bear down when going to the bathroom or to push while giving birth.
The sad fact is that these super-important muscles are often ignored and rarely get massaged, except of course at our spa. When you are on my massage table for the full-body treatment, I work on your Transverse Abdominis twice – first with open fists as a part of the back massage, and then with the palms within the abdomen sequence. Come and experience it by yourself. It feels great. Go online to www.breathespa.ca or call 403-457-3060 and make an appointment.