Strengthening the obliques will improve any golfer's swing.

Strengthening the obliques will improve any golfer’s swing.

Golf is an enormously popular sport for people of all ages: approximately 25 million people step onto a golf course at least once a year. And for those who play regularly, crafting your golf swing can be a lifelong pursuit. Minor tweaks and changes to the way you stand, the movement in the pelvis, and the twist of the torso can add score-improving feet to your drives and of course, bragging rights with your friends. To effectively and efficiently create that twist in the torso, the hips have to engage the oblique abdominal muscles and use them to drive the upper body through the swing. In this article we’ll look more closely at what exactly those muscles are for, and how we can get them working for us as effectively as possible using golf flexibility exercises!

It’s All Oblique to Me

There are several major muscles groups in the abdominal cavity, but for our golf-related purposes, we’re going to look more closely at two of them: the internal and external obliques. These two sets of muscles run in opposite diagonal directions and overlap each other around the sides of the body.

The external obliques start on the front of the body, attached to the bottom of the ribs, and wrap diagonally down and around the side to insert on the back of the pelvis. Meanwhile, the internal obliques begin attached to the bottom of the ribs on the back of the body, and wrap around to the front of pelvis. In this way the muscles criss-cross over each other and provide support for the sides, front and back of the torso.

Get These Muscles On Your Side

The primary function of the oblique muscles is to stabilize your core by aligning the ribs over the pelvis and holding this relationship in place. However there are many different reasons why the obliques may not be able to do their job properly: scoliosis, hip problems, even an ankle injury can throw off their natural balance.

For many of us, these muscles are simply overlooked and weak, because so much of the time when we think of core strength, we immediately go to the infamous ‘six-pack’ or rectus abdominus muscles on the front of the body. You can do crunches to your heart’s content and get those muscles to pop out and look impressive. But if you’re a golfer, they aren’t really going to help your golf swing, as they’re not the primary movers for the twist of the torso! (And on a separate note, too many crunches can start to ‘crunch’ your spinal vertebrae and cause damage over time). Instead, start to pay a little attention to strengthening the obliques and stabilize your core in every direction.

How to Get The Obliques Working For You

The side of the body can often be both weak and stiff – but the following tips will help with both conditions!

1. Stretch through the side body. Read my blog post called “Core Strength: Find Your Obliques” for video of a great side-strengthener called Boomerang, part of the Yoga Tune Up® Quick Fix for the Low Back.

2. Strengthen without a sit-up. The 10 Minute Yoga Tune Up® Quick Fix Low Back Video is a great way to continue to build low back strength.

With just a little more attention to these potential powerhouse muscles, you’ll be able to get your swing in shape in no time!

Get the Post athletic stretch DVD

Check out Coregeous to strengthen your core.

Learn about the YTU At Home Program


Sarah Court

Sarah Court is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Yoga Tune Up® Teacher Trainer, and the creator of Quantum Leap. She teaches public workshops, anatomy for yoga teacher trainings, and trains Yoga Tune Up® teachers worldwide. She developed and teaches her Quantum Leap continuing education program to make sophisticated movement science easy for movement teachers to understand and apply to their teaching. Sarah received her doctorate in Physical Therapy from Mount St. Mary’s University. She brings significant clinical experience to her teaching, attracting clients and students with a desire to move intelligently, regain mobility, or manage chronic conditions. Sarah is an award-winning graduate of Princeton University, and edited the Yoga Tune Up® blog for 5 years. She has been featured on and The New York Times. Find her Yoga Tune Up® schedule here or go to her full website.

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Hyewon Lee

Now, I know why I always had a pain on the lateral side of my back after practicing my swing at a driving range. Thanks for the grate article. I will share your link with my golf buddies.

Sue Paterson

Thanks for such a clear description of how the obliques relate to the ribs and pelvis. Now I know that more lateral flexion and extension exercises will help to power my just-developing golf swing, without the need to hammer away and hurt other muscles; the ‘uncoiling’ cue given during the swing now makes more sense when you add in the knowledge of the obliques. If only that’s all there is to it!

Gretchen Corbin

I know a lot of people who play disc golf (aka Frisbee Golf) and Ultimate Frisbee. These tips on stretching and strengthening the obliques for traditional golf also apply to the asymmetrical sports that involve throwing a Frisbee.


I’m excited to start incorporating more YTU poses that specifically target the obliques to help golfers. I’m a fellow golfer myself and know firsthand how much people will do to increase their drive length…


This wind up action is so important for baseball, swimming, cycling. The potential for power is great. And the need for supporting the spine. I really didn’t understand that the obliques had a big role to play in this. I thought it was just the transverse abs and that the obliques were just this fancy muscle that helped give you a nice side waist.

brooke thomas

I currently have a Rolfing client who is a golfer with a spinal fusion- which you can imagine is not the easiest position to be in! As golfing season kicks off in the Northeast I’ve been looking for ways to help him out, and I’m definitely sending him the link to your article- thanks!


I can’t wait until NEXT golf season so I can put all my yoga to good work in improving my stance and game! I kind of figured yoga must be good for golfers and now I know how and why it can be. I’ll keep working on my obliques and core for sure. Then I’ll rock on the course come spring…..thanks for this!


I am going to be more conscious of my obliques and core strengthening for my game of golf.

Risa Smetak

Much obliged for the article and for creating a attractive site. I have been hunting for savvy information on natural health and can put these recommendations to use. I have found it difficult to locate good information, as there are so many sites with innaccurate posts. Definitely keep the good stuff flowing!


Great article!