A flat stomach never goes out of season; it’s always a hit when you are flaunting a bikini or rocking a cute pair of skinny jeans. No matter how much you watch your diet or work out, it may seem like your lower stomach fails to shrink. Unfortunately, specific spot reduction is impossible, but don't lose hope. Your abdomen has four major muscles — the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, internal obliques and external obliques — but when it comes to your lower stomach, you want to focus on your lower rectus abdominis. Adding a few stretches into your routine can help you stretch and lengthen this specific part of the muscle.
Your rectus abdominis starts at the bottom of your pelvis near your pubic crest and stretches upward to your ribcage where it inserts into your ribs. You engage it when you bring your ribs down to your hips, as you do in a situp. When people refer to "six-pack" abs, they are talking about this muscle. Your rectus abdominis is separated into three regions: upper, middle and lower. While you can't target just one region, you can do stretches that work your lower rectus abdominis more intensely.
When it comes to targeting your lower stomach, nothing works better than the posterior pelvic tilt, according to “Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation” in 1996. In layman’s terms, this means a backbend. This happens when the top of your pelvis moves backward, your coccyx moves up and tucks under and your lower back flattens out. Your lower stomach muscles engage to help pull your pelvis backward.
Begin by kneeling on the floor with straight hips. Place your hands on the back of your hips as if you were sliding them into the back pockets of your jeans. Gradually lean your torso back by arching your back. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. In addition to targeting your lower rectus abdominis, this move also stretches your iliopsoas muscles. This is important because a tight iliopsoas can prevent you from tilting your pelvis backward and engaging your lower rectus abdominis.
Begin by lying face down on the floor with your legs stretched out straight behind you. Place your hands on the floor next to your shoulders. Engage your abs as you gradually push your torso up off the floor. Make sure your pelvis keeps touching the floor. Rise up until you feel a stretch in your abdomen and hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images