Suck in Your Gut? … Maybe Not

Frank Zane Tummy suck

Sucking in the gut has become ubiquitous with looking more fit.  But it’s not just the image conscious who engage in such activies.  Coaches, Personal Trainers (including myself), and Physical Therapists have been telling people for years that sucking in your gut durring exercise will activate the transverse abdominals, and thereby decrease spinal loading.

Apparently, we may have been wrong. (Reuters)

“If you hollow in, you bring the muscles closer to the spine, and you reduce the stability of the spine,” said Stuart McGill, a professor of spine biomechanics in the department of kinesiology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. Try rising from a chair with a hollowed out stomach; not only are you “weak,” he said, but “it’s very difficult.”

Dr. McGill, who has treated patients with back disorders for 25 years, has measured spinal loading forces and their effects on spinal stability with computer models and in test subjects wired to computers.

His findings dispute not only the validity of drawing in, but also the very notion that the transverse abdominus plays a pivotal role in stability. All abdominal and back muscles are important, not just this one, Dr. McGill said.


Dr. McGill said there is a better way than drawing in to protect the spine and build the core. For those about to lift something heavy or, say, leap for a rebound, he recommends bracing all the abdominal muscles — something he said the body does more naturally during exertion.

“Bracing is stiffening the abdominal wall,” he said, explaining the difference. It’s a neutral position. “It’s not sucking in and it’s not pushing your belly out,” he said.

Alright.  Lets all BRACE those abs!


One response to this post.

  1. […] Suck in Your Gut? … Maybe Not « The Dojo Dt Stuart McGill is a well known expert in back health and also power generation. Good reading about protecting your back during exertion. (tags: health kara) […]


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