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Your internal and external obliques assist with lateral flexion -- or side-to-side bending -- of the torso. Consistent and frequent oblique stretching can increase upper-body range of motion, make lateral movement freer and easier and reduce your risk of sports-related injury. Before stretching, warm up with several minutes of general physical activity to increase blood flow to your muscles. Avoid bouncing, which can tighten the area you're attempting to stretch.
Dynamic Lunge and Twist
Stretching your obliques dynamically before a training session or workout prepares the muscles for more intense action. Stand with your feet together, your toes directed forward and your torso upright. Position your hands near your chest for balance. Step forward on your right foot into a wide lunge with both knees bent. Align your bent right knee directly over your right instep. As you step forward, gently rotate your upper body to the right. Draw your right foot and torso back to their initial position. Immediately lunge forward onto your left leg, rotating your torso to the left. Move in a controlled and rhythmic manner, without jerking. Complete 10 to 15 lunges if you can do so with proper form.
Supine Bent-knee Stretch
Following abdominal strength training, stretch your obliques from a supine position to prevent post-workout tightening. Lie on your back on a firm, soft surface with your legs extended in front of you. Relax and extend your arms to your sides so that they form 90-degree angles with your trunk. Your palms should face upward. Bend your knees and direct them toward the ceiling, resting the soles of your feet on the floor. With your knees pressed together, slowly lower them to the right, keeping both shoulders on the floor. Breathe at regular intervals and relax into the stretch, holding the position for up to 30 seconds. Repeat on the left side.
While at work, stretch your obliques from a seated position. Sit near the front edge of a firm, armless chair and cross your right leg over your left. Straighten your back, press your shoulders down and slightly back and rotate your chest and shoulders to the right. Focus in front of you. Grasp the right edge of the seat with both hands and apply light pressure to the seat to increase your spinal rotation and deepen the stretch. Relax and breathe regularly while holding the stretch for up to 30 seconds. Repeat the stretch on the left.
Standing Lateral Stretch
Following a rigorous outdoor workout, a standing oblique stretch is often most convenient. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes forward, lengthen your back and align your head over your spine. Rest your arms along your sides and bend your knees slightly. Focus forward and relax your neck and shoulders. Slowly bend your spine directly to the right, sliding your right hand along your right thigh to increase the lateral stretch. If you wish, add an overhead reach with your left arm. Avoid dropping your chest forward or leaning backward. When you experience light tension along your left side, hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.