Video courtesy of Paul Chek live
The fact is that neurologically you do have lower abdominals. Though you can not completely separate upper from lower abdominals you can perform exercise to emphasize each. The “lower abdominals” are largely responsible for pelvic stability both statically and dynamically. Weak/uncoordinated lower abs can play a major role in back pain. When training your lower abs the most important thing is to………make sure they work! You can do all the best low ab exercises in the world, but if the muscles do not fire due to SMA (sensory motor amnesia) you are wasting time. Corrective exercise with a biofeedback device and MAT (muscle activation technique) have worked for my clients time and time again.
So why does this matter? The bottom line is if you can not utilize the lower fibers of your rectus abdominus and transverse abdominals and the lateral fibers of your external obliques you can not efficiently stabilize your pelvis. If you can’t stabilize your pelvis the law of reciprocal inhibition will take over. This means that the rest of your phasic muscles (legs, glutes, lats, etc..) can not produce their maximal amounts of power due to the instability of the pelvis. If phasic muscles are to fire at their maximal capacity in spite of pelvic instability (say due to adrenaline which allows you to override the laws of reciprocal inhibition) the pelvis can over rotate and cause muscular tears, ligament strains and tears, spinal shear and many other injuries. SO, the importance of pelvic stability comes into play anytime you move, and especially with loaded movement (sports, picking up a child). To reach your potential in any sport as well as to decrease the likelihood of injuries from everyday activity make sure your low abs work. Until next time, train intelligently.
BS Exercise Science