Intra-abdominal Pressure. What is it and why it is important for exercise?

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Intra-abdominal pressure, or IAP, in relation to exercise, has to do with the building of pressure within the abdomen to increase spinal stability. This is especially important when it comes to resistance training since maintaining spinal stability will lower the risk of injury, but also lead to more efficient force production, distribution, and a better overall lift. Increasing IAP before initiating a lift is also known as bracing. I’m sure you’ve heard of many people throwing out their back while moving and this is usually due to a lack of strength in the spine or lack of bracing while lifting.

So how does one increase IAP during exercise? There are many methods, but we will go over two. The first method is by drawing in a deep breath through the mouth and into the stomach, then slightly pushing the belly button in or drawing in the stomach, and lastly maintaining that position throughout the exercise. This can also be redone after each rep or multiple reps. The next method can increase IAP even further but can potentially increase blood pressure momentarily. You will follow the previous steps, take a deep breath, and as you close your mouth, press the air against your mouth or windpipe. You should feel a slightly tighter brace compared to the first method. Let us know if you have any questions and happy training!

Matthew Walcott
B.S. CPT

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