Are you working your core using an internal oblique strategy? How do you know? Read below to find out more!

An internal oblique strategy is noticeable when the lower front ribs flare out.

Over use of internal oblique muscles showing the ribs flaring

 

 

This commonly happens when someone is trying to work their ‘core’. The belly may even flatten out letting someone think they are doing a great job, but if the internal obliques are doing more of the work, leaving out the transverse abdominis muscles, then the core work won’t be as beneficial.
The transverse abdominis muscles are the deepest layer of our abdominal core. Though the rectus abdominis (seen as the 6 pack muscle) and the obliques are necessary to help move us when we are doing different exercises, when we are just lying there doing a simple warm up exercise, we want our transverse abs to be active. If we use an internal oblique strategy, those will be the dominant muscles.
So, how do you know if you are using an internal oblique strategy when you think you are using your transverse abs? Lie down on the floor and hold a small mirror above you so you can see your belly. Activate your core like you would normally and notice if your front ribs are flaring outwards and becoming really obvious. If they are, you need to change something and likely you are overdoing it. Use the cues like:
holding your hand on your lower belly, softly and gently draw your lower belly (below your belly button) away from your hand
do your pelvic floor contraction (Kegel)
What do we actually want to see? Instead of using an internal oblique strategy and seeing the ribs flare out to the sides of the room, we want to see no movement at the rib line and a small movement of the lower belly. If you place your fingers on the sides of your ASIS’s, front pelvic bones, you want to feel a slight amount of tension against or coming away from your fingers. If you feel muscles pushing your fingers up to the ceiling, then you are using an internal oblique strategy. Do 10 or 20% of that effort.
Performing this correctly ensures that your deepest stability layer is working. So practice this exercise at home:
Engage your transverse abs
Hold this tension for 5 breaths and repeat 10x