Exercises > Flexibility (Muscles) > Abdominal Stretches
(Main muscles involved: Rectus Abdominis, Internal Oblique, External Oblique, Transversus Abdominis)
The following abdominal stretches are designed to improve the flexibility of the abdominal muscles (figure 1). You should discuss the suitability of these exercises with your physiotherapist prior to commencing them.
To begin with, the abdominal stretches should be held for 5 seconds and repeated 10 times at a mild to moderate stretch pain free. Generally you should choose one or two abdominal stretches that are most comfortable for you and perform them 1 – 3 times daily. As your flexibility improves, the abdominal stretches can be progressed by increasing the frequency and duration of the stretches provided they are pain free.
Figure 1 – Relevant Anatomy for Abdominal Stretches
Rectus Abdominis Stretch
Begin this abdominal stretch lying on your stomach with your hands in the press up position as demonstrated (figure 2). Gently straighten your elbows, letting your back fall into an arch. Keep your abdominals and back relaxed. Straighten your elbows as far as possible and comfortable without pain. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times provided the exercise is pain free.
Figure 2 – Rectus Abdominis Stretch
Oblique Stretch in Standing
Begin this abdominal stretch standing tall with your back straight and hands above your head. Gently lean to one side until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in the side of your torso (figure 3). Hold for 5 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times provided the exercise is pain free. Then repeat the exercise on the opposite side.
Figure 3 – Oblique Stretch in Standing (right side)
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