What is the TVA, or transverse abdominis? It was all the rage, the hot new thing, when I was a full-time trainer in the early 2000’s. But I’d venture most people still don’t know what it is or does.
I’m going to call it the TVA because typing out transverse abdominis over and over again is just silly. The TVA is the deepest of your abdominal muscles. It attaches to your spine below your ribs and to the top of your pelvis and then wraps around to your front and meets at the linea alba. That’s the big ligament in the center of your stomach. You know the line that divides your six-pack.
The TVA works as your internal weight belt. It’s just like the belts you see lifters wearing, only this one gets stronger as you use it. However, it also gets weaker when you don’t use it.
Sitting on structured furniture has done a lot to detrain the TVA. Instead of our support muscles having to work to maintain spinal alignment, the furniture does it for us. And most of it does a pretty crappy job. Ergonomic usually means one size fits none…
A weakened TVA can lead to lower back pain and a protruding stomach since another function of the TVA is to apply pressure to your internal organs and hold them in place.
Without the the support of a strong TVA, your organs push forward into your abdominal wall and sort of spill over your pelvis. This causes your pelvis to pitch forward and your lower back to hyper extend. By restoring strength, you can alleviate much of this and also improve the efficiency of all of your motor patterns. You’re TVA is that important!
I’ll share a few ways to retrain your TVA in an upcoming TVA video!