Real Time Ultrasound Training (RTUS) is a form of Biofeedback used to help people retrain their stomach muscles after injury.

biofeedback (noun) 

  1. the use of external monitoring of a normally automatic bodily function in order to train someone to acquire voluntary control of that function.

In the case of RTUS the feedback takes the form of a real time picture of your stomach muscles. Getting your abdominal muscles working correctly is extremely important for both recovering from back injury and also for preventing re-injury.

"Buy my abs look fine from the outside....check out my six pack"

Your Rectus abdominus (six pack) muscles form only one layer of your abdominal muscle group. Underneath there are 2 layers of Oblique abdominals that run diagonally, and beneath those two layers are the Transverse abdominals. At best you can only really see the Rectus abdominus and External Oblique abdominals from the outside. The deeper Obliques and Transverse muscles are underneath and cannot be seen.

Layers of the abdominal muscles

Layers of the abdominal muscles

Although they are the smallest and least impressive looking of the abdominal muscles, your Transverse abdominals are by far the most important. Rather than being flashy and powerful like your six pack. These muscles provide background support and allow for control of movement. Think of them like the suspension in your car. The faster you want to drive, the more responsive your suspension needs to be. If you crash your car it is because you have lost control. In the same way, if you lose control of your abdominal muscles you hurt your back.

"So if I can't see them how do I train them?"

This is where Biofeedback with RTUS comes to your rescue. Scanning Ultrasound was developed as a medical imaging tool to help doctors look at deep layers of tissue. Unlike an Xray or MRI scan which is a snapshot of one moment in time, Scanning Ultrasound happens in real time allowing us to see not only structure, but movement as well. Scanning Ultrasound has been used for many decades to look at foetal development, heart function and blood flow. More recently it has begun to be used for biofeedback. By allowing you to see deep inside your body, you are able to effectively train muscles that are normally hard to train.

When looked at as a slice through your body your abdominals are layered something like in the following picture.

Transverse view of the abdominal muscle layers.

Transverse view of the abdominal muscle layers.

We can recreate this image in real time using our Scanning Ultrasound machine.

The above image is actual footage of one of our Physiotherapists  (you get to guess who).

The above image is actual footage of one of our Physiotherapists  (you get to guess who).

Notice that you can clearly see the three layers of External Obliques (EO), Internal Obliques (IO) and Transverse Abdominals (TrA). What is AC? That stands for Abdominal Contents (AKA Breakfast).

Now that you are able to easily see your deep abdominal muscles you can begin to train them confidently. It also allows your Physiotherapist to see that you are responding to training.

Getting your deep abdominal muscles working correctly is one of the most significant parts if recovery from back injury. Without correct training you are almost 4 times as likely to re-injure your back. RTUS is the most effective way to retrain deep abdominal muscles after injury. No other technique can provide the accuracy and feedback in real time.

If you would like to learn more about RTUS please feel free to contact us. To book an appointment with one of our Physiotherapists call 3350 2596 or go to the Online Bookings page of this website.