Many muscles work together to create a stable core, which supports your spine and improves balance and gait. Abdominal hollowing is a technique that is used to stabilize your core. By вЂњdrawing inвЂќ your abdominal wall without moving your pelvis or spine, the deep core muscles are engaged and the spine is supported. In a sense, abdominal hollowing tightens the corset around your waist.
Hollow Your Abdominals
To hollow your abdominal muscles, contract your pelvic floor, pulling it up. Then pull your belly button in toward your spine. This up-and-in contraction is so small, it's imperceptible to others. If you try to hollow too much, different muscles will kick in and your pelvis will scoop under. Without it, your back muscles dominate and overarch your lower back. Your goal is a relaxed, neutral pelvis.
A strong core starts with a neutral pelvis. Abdominal hollowing helps you maintain a neutral pelvis when you lift objects or move around. Think of your pelvis as a bowl - in a relaxed position, your bowl tips forward as if you were pouring out the contents. When you hollow your abdominals, your bowl sits flat on the counter. To better understand this concept, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, toes and knees facing forward. Relax your knees. Place your fingers on the tops of the prominent bones of your pelvis, with your thumbs in back and your fingers in front. Notice that your thumbs are slightly higher than your pointer fingers. Next, pull up and in to hollow your abdominals, keeping your buttocks soft. Feel your pelvis tilt into a neutral position, bringing your thumbs down to the same level as your pointer fingers. This is a neutral pelvis.
Abdominal hollowing is an easy exercise that can be done anywhere and from any position. Because it is a technique that supports your spine, it's a good idea to practice it in many different positions. It is probably easiest when done lying on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor or bed, resting your hands beside your hips. Pull your belly button up and in without squeezing your buttocks. Once you can do it easily, move your hands overhead. Then try it while standing, with your fingers resting on your pelvis so you can feel the pelvis tilt into neutral. Other positions in which to practice this exercise include sitting on both firm and soft chairs, lying on your stomach with your arms down by your hips, lying on your stomach with your arms overhead, and kneeling on your hands and knees.
Practice abdominal hollowing daily. As a reminder, place stickers around your home, car and office. Every time you see one of the stickers, hollow your abdominals. For example, place a sticker on your car steering wheel. Every time you get into your car, remember to do the exercise. If you notice the sticker when you are stopped at a stop light, pull your belly button up and in. For best results, perform each contraction slowly and with precision. Hold the contraction for three to five seconds. Quality is more important than quantity. Focus on tightening the core and relaxing your buttocks, shoulders and back with each contraction.