IF YOUR GYM CLASS was boring or you didn’t like sweat, you probably had menstrual cramps once a month, nine months out of the year… even if you didn’t really. Had you had a decent gym class, exciting and relevant, you would have had great abdominals and probably no menstrual cramps. Your abdominal muscles are like packing tape. They run in four directions and they keep your insides inside.
You have four sets of abdominals.
- The Rectus Abdominals run on either side of your umbilicus (belly button) from your sternum (breastbone) to your pubis (pelvic bone). They contract strongly when you do a sit-up or lift both legs a few inches off the floor while lying supine (on your back).
- The External Obliques run from the lower 8 ribs on each side to the abdominal aponeurosis (sheet like layers of broad tendon) and the iliac crest (hip bones). The External Obliques work together to flex the trunk (bend it forward) and unilaterally to bend to the side and to rotate the trunk. When you do a bent knee sit-up (and that is the only kind you should be doing) and bring your elbow to the opposite knee, you are using your External Obliques.
- The Internal Obliques lie under the External Obliques and run from the inguinal ligament (in the area of your bikini line) to the last four ribs. Like the External Obliques, they too flex and rotate the spine.
- The deepest of the abdominal muscles are the Transverse Abdominals. They run crosswise (horizontally medialward) and their job, like the others, is compression of abdominal contents.
Strong abdominal muscles help deliver babies, lower your chance of having low back pain by 50%, help establish good posture and give you a flatter tummy. They also have an effect on the organs they hold in place.
Abdominal Muscles and Trigger Points
Abdominal muscles are often riddled with trigger points, which cause the muscles to tense up, tighten up, shorten and weaken. Trigger points, (irritable spots that get into muscles when they are injured in some way) may be established in the abdominal muscles in several ways: surgery, over use and abuse, such as too many weighted sit-ups or straight legged sit-ups, blows due to physical abuse, sports and accidents.
Muscles SHOULD be, when not in use, soft, pliable and flexible. If the abdominal muscles are tight they tend to clamp down on their contents often leading to constipation, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, spastic colon and nervous stomach.
When there is discomfort or pain behind the abdominal wall and the doctor says there is nothing wrong, think muscles. Think spasm. Think trigger points. Think, I can fix this.
The figures here are taken from the book Myotherapy: Bonnie Prudden’s Complete Guide to Pain-Free Living. Complete, step-by-step instructions guide you through the process of how to address the trigger points in the abdominals leaving you comfortable and ready to enjoy life.
For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help.
Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®