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Keeping it simple...

Rectus abdominis muscles

(rek-tus  ab-dom-in-us)

skeleton seen from the front showing the rectus abdominis muscles extending from between the legs at the front of the pelvis, midline where the pubic bones meet to the chest. Two muscles lying parallel running up the front of the abdomen attaching to the cartilage of the lower ribs. Sections of muscles separated by strips of connective tissue the linea alba (white line) in the middle and horizontal strips known as tendinous intersections.

Known as "the abs", the left and right rectus abdominis muscles lie side by side up the front of the abdomen.

They are like strong ribbons of muscle, extending from the front of the pelvis to the rib cage.

rectus abdominis anatomy in detail

If you look at how the body is put together (see image below) it becomes obvious that the rectus abdominis should provide the support between the pelvis and upper body - and not the back/lumbar muscles (which can be the source of a lot of pain when the rectus abdominis muscles are not adequately used).

skeleton seen from the side showing the the rectus abdominis muscles at the front of the body and the spine with the back and lumbar muscles. The rectus abdominis provide a strong muscular connection between the pelvis and chest, greatly reducing the strain on the back muscles.

The rectus abdominis are powerful muscles that, when functioning at optimal, allow the body to bend and flex in all possible directions.

The rectus abdominis muscles up the front of the abdomen from pubic symphysis to the ribcage. The muscular connection between the pelvis and the chest.

Think of your rectus abdominis muscles as the body's 'core pillar of strength'.

How to find your rectus abdominis muscles.

Upper attachment to the chest:

  • Put your hands across the front of your lower ribs, fingers touching at the "⋏"-shape that can felt at the bottom of the sternum (breast bone). The rectus abdominis muscles attach to the rib cartilage under your hands.
rectus abdominis muscles from the pubic symphysis to the costal cartilage of the ribs.

Lower attachment to the pelvis:

  • The rectus abdominis muscles attach to the pubic symphysis of the pelvis (between the legs at the front, where the left and right pubic bones meet midline). Where the clitoris/suspensory ligament of penis is located.
  • pubic symphysis

Rectus abdominis - sections of muscle.

Each rectus abdominis consists of several panels of muscle separated by strips of tough connective tissue.

the human abdominal muscles showing the rectus abdominis muscles, linea alba and the navel on the linea alba. The lateral abdominal muscles wrap around the sides of the body and create the rectus sheaths in which the rectus abdominis muscles lie.  Like ribbons in a tunnel either side of midline.

These panels are what create the "6 pack look" but the number of sections of muscle depends on the individual - 4, 6, 8, 10 packs can occur.

Rectus abdominis and the linea alba.

drawing of a person highlighting the rectus abdominis muscles and the linea alba our true midline

Between left and right rectus abdominis muscles there is midline strip of tough connective tissue called the linea alba.

linea alba

The linea alba is our primary guide for body alignment. We can feel, and alter, the positioning of the linea alba by working on activating and extending the rectus abdominis muscles to increase our state of alignment.

body alignment and balance

Rectus abdominis & the body's Base-Line.

The rectus abdominis muscles are part your Base-Line, the key muscles to focus on to improve your posture and build the connection between body and mind.

Base-Line muscles

outline of human figure showing the rectus abdominis muscles running up the front of the abdomen from pelvis to midchest. The body's central line, strong and flexible muscles from where the rest of the body extends. The rectus abdominis muscles should be fully extended. Engaged and elongated, supporting the rest of the body through a full range of natural movement.

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