The obliques are a part of our abdominal muscle group, which also includes the rectus abdominus (the six pack muscles) and the transverse abdominus (Elvis belt). The obliques are comprised of the internal and external obliques. Our abdominal organs rely on our four abdominal muscles for support and protection.
The internal obliques are superficial to the transverse abdominus (the deepest of our four abdominal muscles). They originate from the inguinal ligament (front bikini line), iliac crest and thoracolumbar fascia and insert into the lower 3 ribs and the abdominal aponeurosis to the linea alba. The internal obliques when working individually bend the trunk laterally, and draw the opposite shoulder forward. When working together, the internal obliques flex the torso and contribute to the “air bag” tubular core effect that protects the lower back.
The external oblique is superficial to the internal oblique. The fibers run as if you are putting your hand in your pocket. The external oblique originates at the external surface of the 5th to 12th ribs and insert into the anterior part of the iliac crest and abdominal aponeurosis to the linea alba. They laterally flex the torso when working individually and draw the same side shoulder forward. When working together, the external obliques work with the internal obliques to flex the torso and contribute to the tubular core to protect the lumbar spine.
The obliques criss cross each other to make an X across the torso. Ida Rolf in “Rolfing” states that the tone of the oblique and rectus abdominus among other muscles that attach to the pelvis “. . . furnish an index to the general health and wellbeing of the pelvic and abdominal organs.”
In Thomas Meyer’s “Anatomy Trains,” the obliques make up part of the Spiral Line. The serratus anterior meshes with the external obliques which cross over the front of the body and meshes with the internal obliques on the other side. Thomas Meyers states that the spiral line participates in creating twists, rotations, and lateral shifts in the body.
In pilates, the abdominals, pelvic floor, diaphragm and spinal muscles make up the “core.” In Yoga Tune Up® they contribute to the tubular core.
Waking Up Your Obliques:
To awaken your obliques, practice the Yoga Tune Up® Sidewinder pose (included below and also on the 5 Minute Quick Fix for Lower Back). This will really get you to notice your obliques and how much they support you in everyday life.