Strengthen transverse abdominus and multifidus muscles

I've just returned from the physiotherapist. Not the one I usually see (busy), but another one. I have some lower back pain and the cause was established as weakness in the transverse abdominus and multifidus muscles. I have some pilates-based exercises to do - something I am a bit skeptical about, but I will do them anyway.

Any suggestions from the forum for strengthening these muscles?

Thanks in advance,

Nick

Todd Wilson's picture

Mere TVA weakness does not

Mere TVA weakness does not in and of itself cause back pain or even problems.

TVA weakness or dysfunction can set one up for back pain in that proper spinal stabilization doesn't occur.

Without proper spinal stabilization any one of a number of things could happen to cause injury.

But again, TVA weakness by itself does not cause back pain.

Hey Todd

Thank you for the quick reply.

So, as my problems are not caused by the weakness per se, but probably by squatting and deadlifting with the weakness. (?)

Sitting in the car for a time hurts like **@$*£#! and I've been fiddling with lumbar cushions and seat wedges to help with this.

Because I've been lifting for powerlifting competition, I've been using the belt and wraps more. I would normally do more full, beltless front squats but they've been more irregular recently. Actually, I've not made an especially good job at changing my training around.

So, given that muscle weaknesses seem to have been identified and I would like to get back to squatting again, do you have any suggestions as to a way forward?

Thanks,

Nick

1. Do you keep your wallet

1. Do you keep your wallet in you back pocket?

2. I swear by the beachball exercise for strengthening the TVA. Lots of people laugh and giggle but no one has proven it incorrect and it ain't easy.

3. Seat position relative to pedal location, in a car, is critical.
People without a back problem will develop one over time. People with a back problem will notice incorrect positioning very quickly.

TNT

Beach?

Thanks Thomas.

Quote TNT: I swear by the beachball exercise for strengthening the TVA. Lots of people laugh and giggle but no one has proven it incorrect and it ain't easy.

Er... go on then, what do I do? I've had a look around and done some googling. Can I just lie on the beach?

Do you mean anything on this page?

http://askthetrainer.com/stability-ball-exercises.html

Nick

PS Not a wallet problem.

Todd Wilson's picture

Well, first it would need to

Well, first it would need to be determined if your TVA is actually weak or dysfunctional.

How did your physiotherapist arrive at that conclusion?

Whether it is or isn't, you still have back issues, and strengthening the TVA may or may not help at all.

Paul Chek, who some less informed trainers like to mis-represent, mis-understand, & generally just not like, has a muscle test that adequately test the firing and strength of the TVA. Any of his Chek Practitioners could do the evaluation, or you could learn to do it yourself as he demonstrates it on several of his videos (DVD's now).

I don't claim Paul as the ultimate authority on all forms of training, but when it comes to training of the TVA, and many rehab applications, he gets results.

Well, first it would need to

Well, first it would need to be determined if your TVA is actually weak or dysfunctional.

How did your physiotherapist arrive at that conclusion?

+++ I'm not sure. She pushed me around a bit, asked me what core exercises I do (weighted situps, side bends, russian twists, front squats). I lay down and moved my legs around and tensed my TVA which apparently weakened quite quickly (based on her touch).

Whether it is or isn't, you still have back issues, and strengthening the TVA may or may not help at all.

+++ Yes. It's unlikely though that strengthening the muscle is going to make anything worse.

Paul Chek, who some less informed trainers like to mis-represent, mis-understand, & generally just not like, has a muscle test that adequately test the firing and strength of the TVA. Any of his Chek Practitioners could do the evaluation, or you could learn to do it yourself as he demonstrates it on several of his videos (DVD's now).

+++ Thank you. I haven't heard of him, but I shall look him up and see if there's any trainers in the area.

I don't claim Paul as the ultimate authority on all forms of training, but when it comes to training of the TVA, and many rehab applications, he gets results.

+++ That's a good recommendation then. I'm back at the physiotherapist next week. Any suggestions for useful questions to ask.

Thanks,

Nick

A "vacuum" is to the beach

A "vacuum" is to the beach ball exercise, as air squats are to barbell squats. There is no or very little resistance when performing a vacuum, so I don't see how it can increase strength of the TVA. No overload.

I use a 13" diameter beach ball and a about a 6" piece of 1/8" diameter plastic tubing (gas line)inserted into the valve of the beach ball. Now attempt to inflate the ball with as few breaths as possible. Blow till you can't exhale anymore. The narrow tube and the ball create resistance, especially on the last breath. The longer the tube, the more resistance also.

If my calculations are right, I do about 18.5 liters of air in 4 breaths.

It is the only concentric exercise that I can think of for the TVA.

TNT

Todd Wilson's picture

Well, first it would need to

Well, first it would need to be determined if your TVA is actually weak or dysfunctional.

How did your physiotherapist arrive at that conclusion?

+++ I'm not sure. She pushed me around a bit, asked me what core exercises I do (weighted situps, side bends, russian twists, front squats). I lay down and moved my legs around and tensed my TVA which apparently weakened quite quickly (based on her touch).

### Well, she may be correct in it being weak, or possibly it's not weak per se, but simpy not firing correctly, but regardless that can be palpated.

Whether it is or isn't, you still have back issues, and strengthening the TVA may or may not help at all.

+++ Yes. It's unlikely though that strengthening the muscle is going to make anything worse.

Paul Chek, who some less informed trainers like to mis-represent, mis-understand, & generally just not like, has a muscle test that adequately test the firing and strength of the TVA. Any of his Chek Practitioners could do the evaluation, or you could learn to do it yourself as he demonstrates it on several of his videos (DVD's now).

+++ Thank you. I haven't heard of him, but I shall look him up and see if there's any trainers in the area.

I don't claim Paul as the ultimate authority on all forms of training, but when it comes to training of the TVA, and many rehab applications, he gets results.

+++ That's a good recommendation then. I'm back at the physiotherapist next week. Any suggestions for useful questions to ask.

### Simply ask what if the TVA is weak why, what, where did it effect to cause the back pain. What's causing the pain? Look up some of Chek's articles. He has some on his sight, and a very good one on t-mag.com it may be a 3-4 part article specifically about the TVA.

Thanks

TNT: thanks for that. My wife will think I've finally lost it completely, but I will try this weekend.

Todd: thanks once again. I will go into my next appointment better informed.

I have a few more things to be going on now.

Best regards,

Nick

Be warned. This is not easy.

Be warned. This is not easy. Each exhale takes about 15 LONG seconds. So for 4 breaths (inhale plus exhale) your looking at about 75 seconds.

A Power Breather costs about $200. A beachball costs about $1. Your choice.

The most I did was 15 reps. The next morning, I could barely get out of bed.

TNT

PS. I haven't done a crunch or sit-up in over 5 years. I have very strong abs and a very strong core.

TNT

My beach ball: 17.1 litres. £0.97. About 5 1/2 breaths.

Your standard is pretty good! I'll let you know when (if) I get it down to four.

Oh, and my wife thinks I'm completely loopy now - I should have done it in private.

Cheers

Nick

Yeah I forgot to warn you

Yeah I forgot to warn you about doing it with people watching. Do you know exactly where your TVA is now??? It also works your obliques. How many reps did you do?

TNT

Beach ball

Four reps all at four breaths. We'll see how I feel in the morning.

Wife tutting, shaking her head etc...

Nick

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