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Summary: Here are 4 reasons (and more) to consider Abdominal Bracing for fitness and self-care. Engaging abdominal muscles during your fitness training sessions increases time-under-tension, improves postural and spine patterns and spacing, and decreases potential injuries to the body. Applying that to daily life increases its likelihood in becoming an innate pattern for the individual.

Abdominal muscle "corset" around the trunk

What is Ab Bracing?

For simplicity, abdominal bracing is generally engaging what is known as “core” muscles, where the body produces large amounts of muscular force to stabilize the spine. Consequently, the core creates a type of corset with abdominal muscles around the trunk of the body. The core is primarily known as the body's way to protect the spine from injury during movement. While it is involved in more than merely compression and rigidity, this is the commonly known thought around engaging the core. Various muscles, tissues and nerves are involved in this process, and they impact more than what we consider the core, or abdominal muscles. One example is in correcting an excessive anterior lumbar tilt (known as hyperlordosis, where there is an excessive arching of the lower back, associated with the lower abdomen protruding forward), which may cause tension on the hamstrings and/or affecting its function during movement. Utilizing abdominal bracing could provide a positive outcome of correcting this disposition. Another issue that can be effectively corrected with abdominal bracing is associated with sitting at a desk over an extended period of time. Here, compression and lower back arching occur, as incorrect body patterns prevail over healthy patterns. Consequently, abdominal bracing provides an opportunity for increasing core strength involving various different components, as discussed above, as well as other connections, such as the lower back, hamstrings, and deeper in the abdominal cavity.

Many, who claim expertise in this activity, view it from a variety of aspects, ranging from biomechanical to neurologic functionality to kinetic chains, to name a few. Holistically speaking, it includes all of this and more. For example: nerves, tissues, body composition, and fluid dynamics work as potential inputs to produce this activity. Furthermore, muscles alone do not create stability in movement; stability is not being still. This is particularly true while living life. Including lengthening patterns can be vital in movement as it synergistically utilizes the neuromuscular system and other relationships involved for appropriate motor patterns. This then enhances a person’s ability to recruit what is needed for the movement or activity.

Muscles used in abdominal bracing