Sick of sucking it in? Well, after years of being told that tucking in your tummy can strengthen your abdominal muscles and protect your lower back, although you might be looking slimmer at the moment, it turns out there are no additional advantages.
The move, technically called “drawing in,” consists of inwardly pulling in your navel to your spine, supposedly engaging the deep abdominal muscle called the transverse abdominus. Physical therapists, personal trainers, and Pilates instructors all endorse “drawing in” in some form. Some even suggest the move during running or cycling.
But new studies show that “drawing in” is over-endorsed and can even be regressive.
Dr. Stuart McGill, a professor of spine biomechanics in the department of kinesiology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario explains, “if you hollow in, you bring the muscles closer to the spine, and you reduce the stability of the spine.” McGill professes that all back and abdominal muscles are important, not just the transverse abdominus.
Instead of “drawing in,” McGill promotes “bracing,” which involves stiffening the abdominal wall, to protect the spine and build the core. This move is more natural, taking the body’s instinct of stiffening the abdomen before getting hit in the midsection. It is also a neutral position, not sucking in and not pushing out.
According to Carolyn Richardson, one of the writers of the manual that popularized “drawing in,” the biggest problem with the move is that people do it incorrectly by holding their breath or sucking in so much that they round their back. Richardson recommends stretching tall through the back of the head and relaxing the shoulders, bringing the core to the neutral bracing position.
Pilates, known for concentrating on strengthening the core, endorses “drawing in,” but instructors explain that their technique applies to multiple abdominal muscles rather than focusing on just one.
Source: New York Times.com