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The Abdominal Muscles
Everyone seems to want firm stomach muscles, or that “six-pack” look. But the muscles of our midsection do more than just help us look great. They have very vital functions in our bodies.
The muscles of the midsection are known as the abdominal muscles. They are located in the front of the body, in the center. There are 4 groups of abdominal muscles, which together completely surround the internal organs.
The muscles of the abdominal region include:
Transversus abdominus. This is the deepest level of abdominal muscles, and works to stabilize the entire midsection of the body (known as the trunk) and sustain level abdominal pressure, which protects the internal organs.
Rectus abdominus. This is the group of muscles that give us the “six-pack” appearance when they are toned. This muscle group is located between the ribs and the pubic bone.
External obliques. These muscles are located on each side of the rectus abdominus. They give the trunk stability when it is twisting. The muscle contracts opposite of whichever side is twisting. For example, when the body turns to the right, the left external oblique contracts.
Internal obliques. This muscle group borders the rectus abdominus, just inside the hipbones. These muscles also aid in twisting, but in the opposite way. For example, twisting the midsection to the right uses the right internal obliques.
The abdominal muscle groups work together to house and protect the internal organs, and they also provide support to the lower back. Strong stomach muscles help to prevent back pain or injury.
It is important to have strong abdominal muscles, in order to prevent injuries to the midsection. There are many simple abdominal exercises that can be done that will increase the strength of each muscle group, including:
Side, or lateral, crunches
Leg lifts on the Roman Chair
Crunches on the balance ball
Keeping the abdominal muscles tight when performing other exercises
Standing up straight throughout the day
These are just a few of the ways to help your abdominals be strong and firmer. Toning your abdominals is an important part of any overall fitness routine. Toned abdominal muscles help to relieve or prevent back pain, give a slimmer appearance, improve posture and allow the trunk to move more freely and without pain.
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