Finding your Inner Core

Courtney Petrovich -

Why Finding your Inner Core will Give you Relief from Back Pain


Have you been told or read about the importance and need to tighten your core, find your core and engage your core to help your lower back? Whether you have or not, you may be wondering what this means and why you need to do this? By contracting your core during activities and through out the day, you will speed up recovery from low back pain and prevent future injury. Your deepest core muscle is called the transverses abdomens (TrA). The purpose of the TrA is to protect your lower back and pelvis. Since this muscle is the only core muscle that wraps around the front of your stomach to your back, it is often referred to as a human corset or girdle. For you guys reading this, consider it a cumber bun or brace. Each time you move your legs or arms, the TrA is working to stabilize your spine during all activities. When we have a back injury however, the TrA may not work properly or may not be strong enough. This has been found to play a major part in causing lower back pain.


By learning to contract your TrA, you will be able to stabilize your spine in all positions and activities. This will help alleviate your lower back pain. You should contract your TrA consistently through the day and during all activities, especially during an acute bout of low back pain. After enough practice, you will not have to think about contracting this muscle, it will just become habit.


Help me Find my TrA:


  1. While sitting or lying down, place finger tips 2 inches below your hip bones and inward, toward your belly button. Laugh or cough. Did you feel any muscles contract under your fingers? That was your TrA!
  2. While lying down, bend your knees and place your feet on the ground. Make sure your body is relaxed.
  3. Again, place finger tips 2 inches below your hip bones and inward, toward your belly button.
  4. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale pretend to blow out birthday candles. Try this at least 3 times.
  5. Now see if you can engage your TrA with out coughing or ‘blowing out’.



Check in to make sure you are doing it right:


The first few times trying to find your TrA may be hard. Don’t get discouraged. After a couple tries you will get it. If any of the below are happening start from the beginning and try again.


  1. Your stomach pops or pooches out. If that happens your TrA is NOT working. Those are the outer core muscles taking over.
  2. Your back moves or your hips move while you tighten your TrA. No movement should happen and you shouldn’t lose your natural lower back curve.
  3. Your legs and buttocks tighten. The only thing that should be working while finding your TrA is your TrA. If other body parts are tightening take a deep breath and try again.
  4. Your shoulders are tight and lift up. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed.
  5. You hold your breath: Breathe!
  6. Don’t get discouraged! If it’s not working start with the laugh or quick cough and start again. Another way to contract or find your TrA is to exhale forcefully and picture ‘fogging’ up glasses to clean them.
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