Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Science Behind Organs in place



The T-Tapp movement, Organs in Place is one of the most misunderstood and often maligned exercises I've ever encountered. Because of that I'd like to shed a little light onto this movement.
It's not really about organs totally falling out of their places. It's more about postural changes along with the effects of years of gravity, intra-abdominal pressure and in some cases pregnancy.
First posture: As we age we have a tendency to assume a toe out stance (duck feet) and this will tend to pronate or roll the knees inward. This inward roll of the knees pulls the hips and tips the pelvis which is why we tend to have more back pain as we age. But more importantly to the matter at hand (Organs in place) it also encourages the contents of the abdomen to press forward due to the tip in the pelvis and the effect of gravity. This can be even more pronounced in women who have given birth one or more times.
Now muscle: The transverse abs is a sheath of muscle that literally holds your internal abdominal organs in place. That’s its job. It’s also a muscle that can’t be easily contracted through movement alone. Things that increase intra-abdominal pressure like sneezing or coughing or certain positions will cause it to contract. It’s a muscle that hasn’t gotten much press until the last few years.
This muscle which is responsible for keeping your innards in place is the muscle that “organs in place” targets. (The T-Tapp move half frogs also targets it.)
But please understand that we’re not talking about organs that have gotten mixed up and are sitting in a big old pile all in a jumble. We’re talking about a transverse muscle that’s gotten flabby from childbirth and increases in intra-abdominal pressure and yes, increased fat stores all of which has allowed the abdominal organs to lean forward and to some degree drop because they are not being supported by the transverse abs. You can lose the fat, which will make the abdominal area smaller, but if you don’t tighten up the muscle it’s still going to bulge. Further more, if you do traditional ab work without tightening the transverse you can potentially make the bulge worse because traditional ab work increases intra-abdominal pressure which causes the belly to bulge out as you do your sit ups.
Organs in place works to at first temporarily move the organs slightly up and in so that your tummy lies flatter which will allow you to get more out of the exercises to follow. (Yes even standard crunches) The good news is that just as getting those organs back up and in allows the standard crunches to be more effective, the more effective crunches over time allow your transverse abs to get tighter (I really suggest half frogs to help this process along). This, over less time than you would think leads to a tighter flatter midsection.
It’s not magic it’s just simple but anatomically solid rehabilitative fitness and that is what T-Tapp is all about. Helping the body help itself.
Next let's look at the exercise Half Frogs.
I like to think that half frogs take OIP to the next level. Think about how your abs feel when you press up and lift your hips off the floor to begin OIP. This positioning uses gravity to assist in moving everything back up toward the rib cage where it belongs.
Now fast forward to half frogs but lets look at the last part of the movement first. When you lift your bottom off the floor and aim your knees toward your shoulders you’re using the same kind of gravity assistance as you do with OIP. Except that with HF you’re more actively contracting muscles in order to lift your bottom versus OIP where you could partially use your feet to assist in the tuck.
So with OIP you reverse the changes using gravity to take the place of weak and ineffective muscles. Then with HF you contract those weak in and ineffective while still using gravity to assist in keeping the abdominal organs lifted up and in so that you’re building flat tight musculature versus the round hard tummy traditional sit-ups can build.
This reverse lifting move also has the added benefit of decreasing intra-abdominal pressure, which further “sucks: your abs inward and at the same time prevents pressure and tension in the lower back which is very common with traditional sit-ups.
Finally let’s go back to the beginning of HF. The closing and opening of the legs (with that important tuck) helps to stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weak and flabby muscles that led to this problem in the first place. If you place your hands down below your hip bones while doing this open and close movement you’ll be able to feel the muscles contract.
So where most traditional sit-ups target just the abs or even attempt to isolate a particular part of the abs group of muscles, OIP and HF done together targets the abs, groin, and hip muscles as a complex.
This is important because in real life muscles don’t work in isolation. They work together and fire in specific order like the parts of a well-oiled machine. So, it only makes sense that if you strengthen them like a machine you’ll not only gain aesthetic results but will gain real life functional strength you can take into your everyday life.
One last thing, next time you do OIP. HF try to do a kegel at the top of the lift during HF. You’ll probably realize that you’re already doing one. Very cool, Eh? Built in kegels!


Anonymous said...

This is so great and helpful, like the rest of this blog! Thanks so much!

Lannette Madden said...

You're welcome.