Are you engaging correctly? What to look for – Megan Mansell AEP

In our initial consultation with a new client we perform a movement analysis, and we often assess their ability to correctly activate transverse abdominis, lumbar multifidus and pelvic floor. While many are able to engage or activate these muscle correctly, there are certain compensatory strategies that we look out for. These strategies stem from dysfunction, and other surrounding muscles trying to aid with movement. It is important for you to be aware of the common strategies so that you can monitor your ability to correctly activate these muscles. If you notice yourself engaging in any of the following techniques, take a step back, focus on the specific muscle group with no added movement. Once you feel that this has improved, you can being to further challenge your strength by adding simple dynamic movements.

Pelvic floor is one that is often associated with compensatory strategies. The thing to remember when activating pelvic floor is that there should be little to no external indication that you have engaged these muscles. Pelvic floor compensatory strategies include:

  • Squeezing bottom/bottom gripping
  • Legs rotating outward
  • Rocking pelvis back
  • Movement through spine
  • bulging out into abdomen

If you have been adopting these strategies and feel yourself doing it as you try to active your pelvic floor, than you are not correctly engaging the pelvic floor or may be over-activating.

Due to the fascial connection of pelvic floor and transverse abdominis, it is important that both are being activated correctly. When engaging transverse abdominis there should be a tightening between your two hip bones. The compensatory mechanisms for transverse abdominis activation are:

  • Tilting the pelvis towards you
  • Bulging of the abdomen
  • Flaring rib cage
  • Holding your breathe
  • Accessory muscle pressing into fingertips when palpating activation

Now that you know what to look for when correctly activating pelvic and transverse abdominis, have a go and see if you are able to complete an activation without any of the above strategies. If you are unsure, ask your exercise physiologist and they will be able to help. Just remember, pelvic floor should always be engaged first.

For more information follow the link below for more in-depth information from Dianne Lee and Associates: