Core Muscles Defined: Internal & External Obliques

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We talked last week about the rectus abdominis muscles as they pertain to your core. This week our focus is the obliques. Take your hands and place them on your hips, you’ll notice that your fingers are pointing towards your belly button, but slightly lower.

Your external obliques are located on the side & front of your abdomen, with the internals running beneath the externals in the opposite direction. The internals is also located closer to the skin than even transverse abdominals.

What do external obliques do? The external oblique functions to pull the chest downwards and compress the abdominal cavity, which increases the intra-abdominal pressure.  It also performs bending to the same side, and opposite side rotation. For example, the right external oblique would side bend to the right and rotate to the left. (Stand up and try it now, placing your hands on your sides/belly and see if you can feel your muscles working.) It also stabilizes your spine (core).

What do internal obliques do? They are an opposing force to the diaphragm, reducing the upper chest cavity volume when you exhale. As the diaphragm contracts, the chest is pulled down to increase lung size. The contraction also rotates the trunk and bends it sideways by pulling the midline and rib cage toward the lower back and hip. These muscles are also called the same side rotators. The right internal oblique works with the left external oblique, and vice versa, when flexing and rotating the torso.

More next week as we continue talking about core muscles and where stretching/massage comes into play.

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