The internal and external oblique muscles, located on the sides of your waist, rotate and side bend your trunk. Stretching the obliques can help to maintain the flexibility of your spine and ribs. Always warm up your body with gentle movement before any stretching routine, and do not stretch past the point of mild discomfort.
Side Bend With Straight Arms
This standing stretch for your obliques can be done anywhere. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Interlace your fingers with your palms facing forward. Reach your arms overhead, pressing your palms upward. Keep your elbows straight. Lean to your right, without bending your knees. Pause when you feel a moderate stretch in your left waist. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, then return to the starting position and repeat to your left side.
Twisting stretches, like the pretzel stretch, also target the obliques. Sit on a mat with your legs extended. Place your right foot on the outside of your left knee. Turn your upper body to your right, placing your right hand on the floor behind you for support. Bring your left elbow to the outside of your right knee. Press your elbow into your knee to turn your trunk to the right. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat with your left leg bent, turning to your left.
Lying Bent Leg Oblique Stretch
For a gentler twisting oblique stretch, try this supine position. Lie on your back on a mat. Bend your knees and lower your legs toward the floor to your right until you feel a mild stretch. Rest your left foot on top of your right foot. Open your arms to either side, trying to keep both shoulders on the mat. Maintain the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds, then repeat, lowering your knees to the left.
Side Leaning Half Straddle
The side leaning half straddle incorporates a deep side bend to stretch the obliques. Sit on a mat in wide straddle position. Bend your right knee and place your right heel near your groin. Lean to your left until you feel a moderate stretch in the right side of your waist. Place your left hand or elbow on the mat in front of your left leg. Reach your right arm alongside your right ear. Try to keep both buttocks on the mat. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat, bending your left knee and leaning to the right.
- Essentials of Strength and Conditioning; National Strength and Conditioning Association
- Anatomy of Stretching; Craig Ramsey
- Exercise Prescription: Obliques
- Anatomy of Movement; Blandine Calais-Germain
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise; American College of Sports Medicine
Joe Miller started writing professionally in 1991. He specializes in writing about health and fitness and has written for "Fit Yoga" magazine and the New York Times City Room blog. He holds a master's degree in applied physiology from Columbia University, Teacher's College.