Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
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In Depth: Abdomen

While the abdominals may be a trouble spot for people looking to shed a few pounds, it’s more than just a convenient spot for fat to hang out.

The muscles of the abdomen not only make for a great beach body, but they also protect vital organs underneath, as well as provide structure for the spine, and help the body bend at the waist.

The major muscles of the abdomen include the rectus abdominis in front, the external obliques at the sides, and the latissimus dorsi muscles in the back.

The major organs of the abdomen include the small intestine, large intestine, and stomach. Together, these three turn food into usable energy, as well as help dispose of solid waste.

Major organs that help filter contaminants out of the body are also in the abdominal region. These include the liver and kidneys.

The gallbladder is a tiny sack near the liver that holds extra bile made by the liver until it is pumped into the small intestine. Bile helps break down fat.

The pancreas is yet another gland that produces enzymes to help your body digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It also makes hormones that help regulate the distribution of nutrients, including sugar.

On top of the kidneys are the suprarenal (adrenal) glands. These synthesize and secrete hormones that help the kidneys to conserve sodium, thus conserving water. They also play a role in supporting the body’s sexual functions, among other things.

Key bones in the abdominal area include the base of the ribcage, the lumbar spine in the lower back, and the sacrum that helps form the pelvic bones.

Because of the important organs situated in the abdominal area, many health concerns stem from this area. Some include:

  • Digestive problems in the stomach or intestines
  • Ulcers
  • Various cancers
  • Slipped disc in the lower back
  • Pulled or strained abdominal muscles
  • Cirrhosis of the liver

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