The transverse abdominis muscle helps support the back and stabilize posture.
It is frequently overlooked when doing abdominal exercises. Strengthening the transverse abdominis muscle will help develop your core and abdominal muscles to give you better posture, can help reduce back pain, and is related to correcting forward head posture.
Activating this muscle is not as simple as just doing various forms of sit ups. You are looking to relax the spine and bring your belly to the floor. It is something that takes a bit of practice, but can have many benefits.
A 2021 study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that patients with lumbar instability incorporating this abdominal drawing in maneuver with core stabilization significantly reduced lumbar sagittal translation at L4-L5 and L5-S1. The authors recommend focusing on increasing deep trunk muscle activity to reduce lumbar segmental translation and it should be recommended for lumbar instability.
A 2021 study in Medical Science Monitor indicates a relationship between the cervical spine and the trunk. This study found forward head posture was significantly associated with reduced thickness of the transverse abdominis muscle. The authors recommend increasing the bulk of the abdominal muscles as a potential treatment approach.
Therefore, strengthening this muscle may be a great adjunct to the methods for correcting forward head posture. Again, this is not a stand alone exercise for correction, but an addition that may help.
It takes some practice, but this along with the cranio-cervical flexion exercise can produce results. You can do both at the same time when you get good at it. Just like with the cervical part, you are using the deep muscles and trying to avoid over activating the superficial muscles. So, relax the spine and hips, in hale and slowly exhale bringing the belly button to the floor.
Take some time and do not get frustrated. It takes some time to get where you can do it effectively, but sometimes the exercises with the most finesse can be the most effective and will not over work you. This is not a sweating exercise regimen, but learning how to properly control important postural muscles that can help with both back and neck pain.
A 2021 study in Experimental Brain Research showed that the interaction between neck and trunk proprioception or sense of self-movement and body position can affect how visual inputs relate to spatial orientation and posture.