Abdominal Doming and Lower Belly Pooching

Abdominal Doming and Lower Belly Pooching

The Secret to Flat Abs

Having flat abs is one of those aesthetic signs that you’ve been hitting the gym and watching your macros (probably more on the macros side), but as a physical therapist, I’d like to dive into this topic and go deeper than aesthetics.

It’s something I have seen enough of, and I believe it’s worth addressing. Their neck and back pain and sometimes twisted pelvis are being caused by their abdominals or more likely their approach to strengthening their abdominals. It is possible to do this in a negative way, which will only lead to more imbalances.

Read More: how to fix abdominal doming

You don’t have to spend your time getting fit if it doesn’t allow you to enjoy the process and feel great. More neck tightness and pain does not equal life happiness!

You should have beautiful looking abs, a healthy back and hips that feel amazing.

Abdominal Muscle Anatomy

To understand abdominal exercises and picking the right approach for you, it’s important to understand the physiology of abdominal muscles. Let’s start deep and work our way to the surface.

Transverse Abdominals (TAs or TVAs) are the deepest layer of abdominal muscles. They join into a fascial sheet at the front which goes beneath your rectus muscle. This fascial layer is able to separate from your rectus (6-pack muscle).

Internal Obliques (IOs) are the next layer up and they run diagonally on the sides. The IOs split and form part of the fascial layer below the rectus and part above it. They really sandwich the rectus muscular.

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External Obliques (EOs) are the most superficial layer (closest to the surface) and they run diagonally on the sides like putting your hands in your pockets, opposite of the IOs. The EOs attach themselves to fascia that runs above the rectus muscles. The fascia’s top layer is tightly connected to the rectus. It cannot glide like the bottom layer.

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Rectus Abdominis (RA) is the muscle we think of as being the 6 pack muscle. It’s often the muscle most targeted by traditional abdominal work (think front planks, crunches and situps). The issue is that this muscle must stay in balance with the ones on the sides and to make it even harder, the side muscles must all show up equally as well.

To simplify, the TAs and IOs are more of your stability system and the EOs and RAs more of your moving system. If we’re all movement and no stability, the body gets cranky. Likewise, if we’re all stability and no movement, that too can create tightness, aches, and pains.

There is a limit to how much TAs you can take. I know, crazy right! Everything needs to be in balance, even the deep stability system. Too many TAs can lead to tight QLs in patients I have seen. The broad, flat muscles of your low back are the QLs (quadratuslumborum). If your abdominal imbalance is causing you to feel tight around the sides of you back, it could be a problem with your abs. You will need to take more EOs in order to get your QLs to relax. What are you waiting for?

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Alright, let’s break down a crunch and look at why doing it wrong will make your stomach bigger and doing it right will make your abs flatter. I probably should have led with that statement…

What is abdominal doming?

Abdominal When your rectus abdominalis muscle (think six pack running down the middle) takes over other muscles in your abs, it is called doming. When you pick up your head, your rectus pops up and we don’t see support from anyone else (keep reading to check out the video where I demo this!).

Your transverse abdominals, internal and external obliques should kick in when you lift your head. Your abs will flatten when they do. If they don’t, your abs stick out or dome. This is often associated with a diastasis recti and/or hernia. If this is the case, your abs will bulge more if you do more ab work.

The body is meant to work together and when it doesn’t things go very wrong. I also often see a dominant rectus go hand in hand with a pooching belly, tight hip flexors, back pain and tightness and hip pain. It is an indication that your deep inner core, also known as. Your support system isn’t performing its duties, and this makes many other parts mad for not picking up the slack.

Let’s see how it works.

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Diasiasis Recti exercises

Dominant Rectus with Doming During Crunch

diastasis recti exercises

Balanced Abs with TAs, Obliques and Rectus Contracting to Lift Head

We need a balanced core system

Now, we’ve looked at having a rectus dominant pattern with not enough lateral (side) abs. What happens if we have too much TA and IO and not enough RA and EO? So, too much stability and not enough movement. Although this can lead to a wider diastasisrecti, it will still feel great on the pelvic floor.

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If someone is more RA dominant or EO dominant, they will have a wider diastasis and more pelvic floor problems. They may have to bear more pressure on the PF because EOs put a lot of pressure on it. After all, they have to move us. Movement generation creates force and pressure.)

Upper vs lower abs

I want to dive into one more area before we go and that’s upper versus lower abs.

Yes !!!!! You can work and target lower abs. This video will show you how to increase your lower abs while working out. This is really great for helping with neck and chest tightness as well since the habit of upper ab gripping can really cause a lot of pain.

It’s so much fun to dive into abdominal balance, as you can see. I’m certain that’s what you thought. LOL) But, in all seriousness, if you’re experiencing pressure or heaviness down on your pelvic floor, feel like your ribcage is really wide, want to improve your diastasis or simply want to work on aesthetics without feeling neck and back tightness, then it’s worth looking into being a little more specific with your abdominal training program. It’s easier to get results if you know where to focus your efforts.

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