Abdominal Anatomy Lesson: The Six Pack Abs are the LEAST important for Back Pain!

Hey guys. What’s up? it’s Stephen with CORE Therapy and Pilates and I have Rebekah here to help me today.
Last spring Cheryl and I were invited to do a fit festival at the Hill Country middle school around the corner. We were teaching an anatomy lesson to the kids at the beginning of a 30-minute Pilates session–The different layers of the abdominals so that when we were teaching what exercises we wanted them to know what muscles to use…

We’re going to use a quick little tape here and we’re going to have Rebekah demonstrate the different muscles of the abdomen.  I’m going to put this tape on your shirt here and so the deepest layer is the red tape, your transverse abdominis. It attaches to the back and wraps all the way around and attaches to the front. It’s like a corset or a personal back brace. In many situations with back pain, the deep transverse abdominis is very weak.

The next layer out we have a criss-cross layer from here to here that are the obliques. This is not perfect and exact, but it’s going help get my point across. We have the external oblique coming down from the side and we have the internal oblique coming here. We can think about it as a big X and it’s our next layer as we move from deep to superficial. Those are the obliques–internal and external.

The “six-pack” is going to be represented by that yellow tape.  The six-pack is the most superficial abdominal muscle layer. It’s the one that attaches from up here at the ribs down to the pelvic bone… If we only work the six-pack it’s going to bring you into a forward position.

We teach Pilates and GYROTONIC(R) concepts to start with the red muscle, and then we work our way out and start strengthening the blue muscle and then last but not least, we will strengthen the yellow, six-pack muscle. If you start with a six-pack and you don’t find the red, deep transverse and you don’t find the obliques then you’re going to end up with some poor mechanical posture that we spend a lot of time trying to get people out of here at CORE.  I hope that makes sense. This concludes our anatomy lesson for the abdominal layers.

If you have any comments or questions, put them below. If you want to reach out, call us at 512.215.4227 and y’all have a fantastic day guys… Thanks a lot!

Physical Therapist and Occupational Therapist at CORE Therapy and Pilates
Andy is passionate about providing a holistic approach to help people in Austin stay active and fit. He has a special interest in helping musicians perform more freely and comfortably. To better serve his patients, he acquired his manual therapy certification (MTC) through USAHS in 2018, and he is in the process of becoming a certified hand therapist. He also completed his Comprehensive Pilates and pre-/post-natal training through Core Pilates NYC, and became a certified classical Pilates instructor in 2019.
"Andy" Chin-Hueng Tseng