The Transversus Abdominis (TrA) is part of our core musculature. It is important that it we activate it fully to help to support your spine. For spinal health we require 3 things:

  1. Ideal Spinal Alignment
  2. Excellent Spinal Function
  3. Strong Core Muscles

In our office we see many people with lower back issues and often find that the TrA are weak. Some of the things that can switch the TrA muscles off, include sharp or chronic low back pain, post pregnancy and trauma. In this video Dr. Lisa, chiropractor, goes through how to increase your nervous system’s awareness of this area. A strong TrA will help with all other core exercises. The following steps will help you with activating your transversus abdominis:

Step 1. Find Neutral Spine

Lie down on a yoga mat, carpet or on the grass.

To do this, lie on the ground on your back with knees bent. Have knees hip width apart and feet (preferably bare) slightly turned out. Push your lower back to the ground and let us call that position, position ‘0’. Now push your belly button up towards the ceiling (or sky if you’re outside) and that position is position ’10’. Pelvis stays on the ground here. Neutral spine is ‘5-6’, so mid point between the two positions. Your lower back should feel relaxed and neutral.

Step 2. Locate the TrA

Find, with your finger tips, the bony prominence at the front of your pelvis. Then go in about 5 cm and down 3 cm. Then gently pull your belly button to your lower back. You should feel the TrA tighten, like you are pulling Cling Film tightly. You shouldn’t feel a bulge. If you do, then you are not activating the TrA, but another muscle. You should feel the TrA evenly on both sides. 

If you are having trouble feeling the muscles, or they are bulging then you need to do this  activation exercise. 

Hold the belly button to low back for 10 secs, and do 10 sets. 

Rest 30 seconds in between. 


Step 3. Advanced

Once you are feeling that your transversus abdominis are activating well then you will not need to use your fingers. At this point you can activate your transversus abdominis sitting while driving or at the desk. You can then progress to doing this exercise standing, for example while brushing your teeth or doing the dishes. 

Once you have progressed to Step 3. you can then incorporate this exercise into all core and functional exercises. 

Any problems, please stop and see your chiropractor.

Concerned your posture is causing lower back pain? Read our blog post on ideal posture here

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