Today, we’re going to shred your abs and go into your core.
The above picture is of a skeleton gabbing about its psoas major. It’s your main hip flexor, and it runs from your lumbar (lower) vertebrae to the inside of your leg. This is a muscle that runners spend a lot of time learning how to stretch, because a psoas cramp is a pretty evil thing. A tight psoas can lead to low back problems and can cause you to feel “doubled over.” The good news is, it can be released effectively through specific massage techniques.
There are four major abdominal muscles.
(insert "record scratch" sound here) “Wait, wait, wait,” I hear you saying. “What about your six-pack?”
Here’s your news flash: That’s actually one muscle — rectus abdominis. Depending on the construction of this muscle, it can look like six divided muscles. Or, it might not.
That means that depending on how you’re built, you might never develop a six-pack, no matter how hard you work at it.
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
But keep working at it! A strong core is your key to a healthy foundation. Strengthening all these muscles — including the obliques and transverse abdominis (which you see low in the abdomen on someone who’s got a lot of definition) helps you walk better, run better, and have more stamina. It also keeps your spine supported, which helps your posture, which helps your entire musculature.
One more core muscle I’d like to go over is actually in your back, between your last rib and the top of your pelvis, and runs next to your spine. It’s called quadratus lumborum, which usually gets abbreviated as QL. It’s one of your primary low-back stabilizers, and it gets worked all day long. It’s strong, but it’s not very big, so it packs a punch for its size. When it’s tight, it can lead to extraordinary pain and a feeling of lack of motion.
I know I’m not supposed to pick favorites, but I can’t help it. QL is my favorite muscle. I love loosening a tight QL because it has the power to transform.
Next week: Everyone’s favorite, the upper back!
Be well, healthy and whole,