Have you ever felt like your muscles on either side of your abdominal are sore without ever participating in rigorous exercise. An interesting story in the laist highlights the troubling rise of MLB players succumbing to the quirkiest of muscle traumas: oblique injuries. Reporter Jimmy Bramlett points out that this injury-trend is perplexing because of the relative newness of the diagnoses around the league.
Los Angeles Dodgers head trainer Stan Conte is currently stumped regarding the origins of this latest phenomenon, and since their is no concrete historical record of Oblique injuries, it is hard for him to build on previous case studies to help his current players.
“When we go back and look at these injuries, we didn’t really see anything that resembled these injuries about 15, 20 years ago,” Conte explains.
Oblique injuries are painful and annoying. Once the oblique muscles are compromised, it takes weeks to fully recover because of the many functions they play in everyday human activities. The oblique muscles are largely overlooked and undertrained. With the explosion of home workout DVD’s, yoga, and Pilates, core stability has been on the tongues of many people, but nevertheless, proper attention has rarely balanced out all the talk.
Oblique muscles are made up of sets of fibers, external and internal. The internal obliques acts as an antagonist (opponent) to the diaphragm, helping to reduce the volume of the thoracic (chest) cavity during exhalation. It also its contraction rotates and side-bends the trunk by pulling the rib cage and midline towards the hip and lower back, of the same side. It acts with the external oblique muscles of the opposite side to achieve this torsional movement of the trunk.
As one can see, obliques are important in breathing and the rotation of one’s trunk, so they’re indeed important for baseball players, who contort and rotate their bodies in ways that put tremendous stress on those muscles.
In basic life, picking up moderately heavy objects in awkward positions or even playfully swinging a child in one’s arms can trigger an oblique strain. To avoid straining the oblique muscles, stretch every morning after a quick walk or jog in comfortable settings.
If one does injury the oblique muscle always see a doctor so the severity of the injury can be determined. In most cases, time will heal the injury along with heat and ice treatments.
Here is a helpful stretching tip for the mornings:
Side Bend Stretch
1. Stand upright with feet shoulder width apart. Let your arms hang by the sides.
2. Raise your right arm overhead bending your torso to the left as far as possible.
3. Hold this side-bent position for 10-15 seconds.
Get back to starting position and repeat on the opposite side.
Upward Facing Dog
1. From Table pose, slowly drop the hips forward toward the floor.
2. Press palms down into the floor, drop the shoulders down and back, press the chest forward and reach the crown of the head up towards the ceiling.
3. Inhale and lift thighs and legs off of the floor by pressing the tops of the feet down and engaging mula bandha.
4. Breathe and hold for 1-3 breaths.
5. To release: bend the knees and lift the hips back up into table position