The Abdominal Muscles Anatomy And Function

What are the abdominal muscles?

The abdominal muscles are a group of muscles that form the abdominal wall.
The abdominal wall is formed by skin, fascia, and (Physiopedia, 2022).

Fascia is a sheet or band of fibrous connective tissue. This tissue functions by enveloping, separating, or binding muscles, organs, and other soft structures of the body to each other (The Free Dictionary, 2022).

the abdominal muscles
Abdomen (Wikipedia, 2022).
abdominal muscles
Human Abdomen And Organs (Wikipedia, 2022).

What is the abdomen?

The abdomen is commonly called the belly, tummy, midriff, tucky or stomach. It is located between the thorax (chest) and pelvis. The abdomen is the front part of the abdominal segment of the torso. The area occupied by the abdomen is called the abdominal cavity.

The abdomen contains organs from the digestive system, urinary system, and muscular system.

Organs of the digestive system in the abdominal cavity include the:

– stomach.
– small intestine.
– colon.
– appendix.
– liver.
– gallbladder.
– pancreas.

These structures also lie wwthin the abdomen

– spleen.
– kidneys.
– adrenal glands.
– many blood vessels including the aorta and inferior vena cava.

What is the function of the abdominal muscles

The abdominal muscles carry out the following functions:

– support the trunk.
– movement.
– hold organs in place.
– protect the internal organs.
– distend to accommodate dynamic changes in the volume of abdominal contents (Physiopedia, 2022).

What are the four main abdominal muscles?

The four main abdominal muscles are the:

– Rectus abdominis.
– Transversus abdominis.
– External oblique muscles.
– Internal oblique muscles.

Location and function of the four main abdominal muscles

Rectus abdominis

The rectus abdominis consist of a pair of long, flat and straight muscles. They extend down the entire length of the anterior abdominal wall.

When the rectus abdominis contracts, characteristic bumps or bulges appear. These bulges are commonly called ‘the six pack’.

Rectus Abdominis (Wikipedia, 2022)

Main functions of the rectus abdominis

– Maintains posture.
– Moves the body between the ribcage and the pelvis.
– Flexes the lumbar spine, for example when a crunch is done.
– Increases intra-abdominal pressure, such as when exercising or lifting heavy weights,
– Assists with breathing and plays an important role in respiration when forcefully exhaling, as in situations where persons have breathing difficulties.

Rectus abdominis exercises

– Toe Taps.
– Forearm Plank.
– Reverse Crunch.
– Abdominal Crunches.

Transversus abdominis

The transverse abdominal muscle is also referred to as the transverse abdominis, transversalis muscle and transversus abdominis muscle. The transverse abdominis is located on the anterior (front) and lateral (side) of the abdominal wall.

It is is the innermost of the flat muscles of the abdomen.

The transverse abdominis is deep to, or layered below, the internal oblique muscle. Most fitness instructors refer to it as a significant component of the core.

Transversus abdominis functions

The transverse abdominis functions by stabilizing the trunk and by maintaining internal abdominal pressure.

The transverse abdominis is therefore vital to back and core health.

It also functions by pulling in what would otherwise be a protruding abdomen. As a result, it has the nickname, the “corset muscle”.

Transverse abdominis exercise

In order to flatten the belly during exercise, the transverse abdominis must also be trained (Wikipedia, 2022).
Exercises include:

– Forearm Plank.
– Shoulder Tap Plank.
– Up and Down Planks

abdominal muscles
Transverse Abdominis Muscles (Wikipedia, 2022).

External oblique abdominal muscles

The external oblique muscle is located on the lateral (side) and anterior (front) parts of the abdomen. It is the largest and most superficial of the four muscles.

Function of the external oblique abdominal muscles

The external oblique functions to:

– rotate the trunk.
– bend from side to side.
– pull the chest downwards and compress the abdominal cavity, which increases the intra-abdominal pressure.
– perform contralateral (opposite side) rotation. In this movement, the right external oblique would side bend to the right and rotate to the left, and vice versa.

Training the external obliques

– Crunches.
– Side planks.
– Sit-ups.

abdominal muscles
External Oblique (Wikipedia, 2022).

Internal oblique abdominal muscles

The internal oblique muscles flank the rectus abdominis. They are located just inside the hipbones.

Functions of the internal oblique muscles

– Ipsilateral side flexion (situated or appearing on or affecting the same side of the body).

Internal oblique muscle exercises

– Heel-tap.
– Side plank.
– Bicycle crunch.

abdominal muscles
Internal Oblique (Wikipedia, 2022).

What are the core muscles

The core muscles are a group of muscles which include the:

– pelvic floor muscles.
– transverses abdominis.
– multifidus.
– internal and external obliques.
– rectus abdominis.
– erector spinae (sacrospinalis) mainly the longissimus thoracis and Diaphragm.

The minor core muscles include the:

– latissimus dorsi.
– gluteus maximus.
– trapezius.

Function of the core muscles

These muscles combine with the intrinsic back muscles to:

– keep the body stable and balanced.
– protect the spine (Mobile Physiotherapy Clinic, 2021).

Great resource for exercises

Mobile Physiotheraoy Clinic.

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