How to Stretch Obliques

How to Stretch Obliques

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Stretching dynamically can help you improve your turning performance in sports.

Mark Dadswell/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

After spending many hours working in front of the computer, your oblique muscles, which help you turn your body, may feel like a rusty bottle cap that doesn't twist easily. Stretching regularly throughout the day can increase the elasticity of the obliques as well as other abdominal and back muscles. Since your oblique muscles are part of your core, it's very difficult and not practical to stretch them in isolation. Therefore, you should stretch them with other muscle groups to gain the full benefits of twisting, such as improved blood in your internal organs, according to Yoga Journal.


Warm up your body with light aerobics such as jogging or jumping rope to improve blood circulation and wake up your nervous system. Take a couple of deep breaths into your belly before you stretch.


Lie on the floor on the right side of your body with your knees and hips bent at about 90 degrees. Put your right hand on top of your left knee to keep your lower body in place, and put your left hand behind your head with your left elbow pointing in front of your face. Exhale as you turn your torso to your left, bringing your elbow toward the floor if you can without moving your lower body. Turn your head in the same direction as you turn. Hold the end of the stretch for one second and return to the starting position. See if you can increase the rotation a little more with each repetition. Perform 10 to 12 reps per side.


Prepare for the Half-Moon pose by standing with your feet together and raising your arms overhead from your sides. Lace your fingers together and point your index fingers straight up. Your biceps should be next to your ears. Bend your torso side to side slightly to warm up before you perform the full stretch. Exhale as you slowly bend your body to your right while keeping your palms pressed together and your balance. Tighten your buttocks as you hold the position for five to six deep breaths. You should feel a stretch extending from your armpit, through your ribs and obliques and into the upper lateral side of your hip. Repeat the stretch on the opposite side.


Prepare for the Triangle pose by standing with your feet wider than your shoulder girdle's width. Both feet should be pointing forward. Extend your arms out to your sides with your palms facing down. Turn your left foot out to your left 90 degrees. Align the right heel with your left heel. Tighten your thighs and turn your left hip outward so your left knee is in alignment with the center of your left ankle. Exhale as you lean your torso to your left, bringing your right arm over your body while your left hand moves closer to your left ankle. Anchor your shoulders in place to avoid moving your arms. Rotate your torso to your right as you lean down. Hold this position for five to six deep breaths, and return your body to the standing position. Repeat the exercise on the opposite side.


  • Exercise physiolgist Len Kravitiz, Ph.D., recommends that you perform static stretching, which is holding a stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, after you work out instead of before. Static stretching decreases neural stimulation to your muscles, which can enhance relaxation and decrease your performance. Dynamic stretching refers to moving multiple joints and muscles together repetitively over your normal range of motion. This can enhance muscle elasticity and neural activity. Instead of holding the Half-Moon and Triangle poses, move your body rhythmically to your left and right sides. For example, once you attain the maximum range of motion on the Triangle pose, hold the pose for a few seconds, and perform the exercise on the other side. Repeat this movement pattern several times.


  • Stretching too fast and too far can cause a painful, involuntary contraction called the stretch reflex. This is a protective mechanism to avoid muscle and joint tearing. When you stretch a muscle gradually, sensors in your muscles called muscle spindles are activated, which resist the stretch of the muscle. The resistance isn't large enough to induce the stretch reflex, allowing the muscle to stretch a little further than normal length. However, when you stretch too quickly, the muscle spindles fire rapidly, causing the stretch reflex. Always breathe deeply and take your time with stretching.

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