The feel of sore abdominals keeps many returning to their routine with the desire for more. When abs are sore, you know you are making progress. But, what if this soreness limits your ability to enjoy your daily life, or begins to reduce your range of motion? The easiest solution is to make time for abdominal stretching exercises. These movements do not require a lot of time, can be done anywhere and anytime you need a stretch, plus they will help reduce muscle soreness and maintain your core flexibility. A strong, flexible core is the best combination as you can compete, perform and play with confidence.
Ways to Stretch Abdominals
The standing abdominal stretch lengthens your rectus abdominis, RA, the outermost abdominal muscle that lies between your ribs and pelvis. To stretch this area, stand tall with your feet at a comfortable distance apart. Raise your arms overhead and then move your arms back as far as comfortable. At the same time, raise your chest to lengthen the distance between your ribs and pelvis. You can also tip your hips slightly downward as if sticking your behind out to increase the stretch. Maintain this position for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat if needed. It may be helpful to clasp your hands together.
Standing Side Stretch
You can stretch your obliques, the muscles along the side of your abdomen, in a standing position as well. Stand comfortably and extend your arms overhead. Clasp your hands together if possible. Look forward and keep your chest facing forward as you lean to the right until you feel the stretch along your left side. Breathe normally and maintain the position for five to 10 seconds. Release and then repeat up to 10 times before you complete an equal amount on the right side.
Lie face down for an intense RA stretch. Place your hands under your shoulders with your fingers pointing forward. Keep your legs straight and rest the tops of your feet on the floor. Inhale as you straighten your arms and raise your head, chest and the upper abdominal area off the floor. Your lower back will arch in this position, so only raise to a height that does not cause back discomfort. Keep your hips pressing into the floor as you feel the stretch in your core. Breathe normally and hold the stretch for five to 10 seconds. Slowly bend your elbows to release and then repeat.
A stability ball offers a comfortable place to stretch your core. Sit on top of a ball and slowly walk your feet away until you are lying face up with your back against the ball. Raise your arms over your head and allow your head to relax against the ball. Your back is arched over the ball which expands your abdominal area and stretches your core. This is a great stretch to use in between abdominal crunches on the ball.
Use your stretches during the workout to keep flexibility and reduce pain. Or, include abdominal stretches at the end of your workout routine. You may also find yourself using these the day after your workouts to lessen any abdominal discomfort from your intense core workouts.