Do you include oblique muscles in your stretching routine?
Stretching after exercise helps to avoid overloading and the risk of injury and contributes to the recovery and repair of the muscles we have worked.
The oblique muscles play an important role in body stability and in relieving tension in the spine.
Regular stretching helps to maintain spinal alignment and prevent back pain.
What are the oblique muscles and what are their functions?
The oblique muscles are flat muscles that are located on both sides of the abdomen, forming part of the abdominal musculature together with the rectus abdominis muscle and the transversus abdominis muscle.
In turn, the abdominal muscles form part of the core, the nucleus or centre of gravity of our body, which includes the abdominal, lumbar, pelvic and gluteal muscles and the deep muscles of the spine.
The anterolateral wall of the abdomen is anatomically divided into nine regions for the topographical classification of its external surface. The middle three quadrants correspond to the rectus abdominis muscle, the famous six-pack, and the oblique musculature is located on the left and right flanks.
These are the benefits of keeping your abdominal muscles in good condition:
- It constitutes the centre of gravity.
- Provides stability to the trunk.
- The core muscles are the ones that help us keep our balance when we stand.
- It helps in the generation and transmission of force to the limbs, particularly the lower limbs.
- It allows the coordination of movements.
- Helps in the control of force, e.g. in lifting an object.
- It is vital in maintaining correct posture, standing and sitting.
- It is involved in processes such as breathing, urination and defecation.
A toned abdominal musculature is a key to avoiding overloading the back muscles and reducing the pressure on the dorsal and lumbar intervertebral discs when, for example, we exercise. These muscles stabilise the trunk and support the viscera.
The abdominal muscles together with the dorsal and lumbar muscles, the pelvic floor muscles, the buttocks and the hip muscles act in synergy to perform all body movements.
The oblique muscles have specific functions that are essential for maintaining posture, protecting the spine and enabling certain actions, which we explain below:
- Internal oblique muscle. This is the deepest muscle. When acting unilaterally, it allows us to lean and turn the trunk to the same side. When both internal obliques act together, they contribute to making it possible to lean forward. It is also involved in breathing, specifically in the expiratory movement, lowering the ribs and bringing them backwards.
- External oblique muscle. This is the largest abdominal muscle. When it acts from one side only, it allows us to lean to that side and rotate to the opposite side. When acting bilaterally, it flexes the trunk forward.
What happens when we train the oblique muscles?
As with the rest of the musculature, when we work the oblique muscles we increase, both in size and in number, the fibres that make them up. This is how we gain muscle tone and strength.
Toning refers to the firmness and hardness of the muscle at rest. Strength is the ability to exert tension against resistance, with or without movement.
In addition, by working the oblique muscles, we add power to the abdominal group.
Whether we want to strengthen and tone the area or burn excess fat in the waistline, the exercise routine must be different.
To strengthen and tone the oblique muscles without overdeveloping them, work them two to three times a week at moderate intensity.
When the objective is to burn localised fat, we will resort to more intensive and daily training, including specific exercises for the oblique muscles in our routine and continue to maintain an appropriate dietary pattern.
Here are some examples of exercises suitable for these muscles:
- Classic plank. Lying on your stomach, rest your body weight on your forearms and toes. Hold the plank position with your body in tension for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Lateral plank. Lying on your side, rest your body weight on your forearm and foot on the same side and hold the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Whatever the reason that leads us to remember to include the obliques in our sports practice, the great beneficiary is our back, since everything that involves strengthening the abdominal area contributes to better support of the spine and a correct position of the pelvis.
Why should we stretch our obliques after training?
Stretching contributes to physical well-being. Doing them after exercise helps us to avoid injuries and muscle overload. Their benefits go beyond muscle recovery:
- They increase our flexibility.
- They contribute to better blood circulation by improving blood flow to the muscles.
- They relieve stress and tension.
- They maintain the correct alignment of the spine.
- They improve our posture.
The abdominal muscles should not be forgotten when stretching.
Remember that stretching should be gradual and connected to good breathing to make the most of its benefits. Stretching should make us feel tension, never pain and, of course, we should not stretch if we have a previous injury or pain.
In the specific case of the oblique muscles, stretching them makes them loosen, avoiding injuries due to misalignment of the spine to one side or the other and increasing performance in the exercises that involve them.
Relaxing the joints and muscles after exercise is essential to oxygenating the muscles, promoting the supply of nutrients and eliminating metabolic waste.
To contribute even more to joint and muscle recovery, we recommend using Orgono G7 Sports Recovery Cream, a cream based on organic silica that provides an immediate feeling of relief and helps oxygenate the muscles and recover from overloads.
In cases of joint stress and wear and tear, it is advisable to reinforce the tissues that protect the joint. A dietary supplement such as Orgono Sports Recovery Supplement is perfect for this. Formulated with organic silica and glycine, it promotes the formation of collagen, essential in the structure of bones and joints, strengthening cartilage, tendons and muscles.
Examples for stretching obliques
Here are a couple of examples of how to stretch the oblique muscles.
- Standing, place your feet shoulder-width apart and your right hand on your hip. Raise your left arm and lean your torso to the right. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
- Lie face up on the mat. With your shoulders squared and your chest open, rotate your right leg and support it with your left leg. Keep your right arm extended diagonally with the palm of your hand facing upwards. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
In both exercises, you should feel the oblique muscles stretch without pain.
Exercise your obliques
The oblique muscles together with the lumbar muscles, pelvic muscles, buttocks and deep muscles of the spine form the core of the body’s stability.
Stretching them and keeping them in good shape contributes to a strong waist and prevents back pain.
Exercising your obliques and nourishing them properly is essential to improve your balance and stability.