Something that is often neglected when it comes to workouts is a thorough and correct focus on stretching. In particular, to protect the core, you need to know how to stretch abs correctly. Here are 5 tips to help you maximise your results, improve your posture and protect yourself from injury.
The abdominals are one of our large muscle groups in charge of fulfilling important functions such as protecting the spine, promoting the stability of the body itself and making possible essential movements such as twists, push-ups or extensions.
There are many good core workouts that activate the different abdominal muscles. It is important to start and finish any of them with ab stretching exercises. Stretching will stimulate optimal muscle recovery and help you avoid injuries and stiffness.
The keys to stretch abs correctly
Stretches are simple exercises, but the real benefit comes using correct technique. Put into practice these 5 tips to stretch abs and you will experience a more effective impact.
1. Before and after exercise
Stretches for core muscles should be incorporated into your warm-up and warm-down particularly for abdominal workouts. They will help your muscles to elongate and release any contraction from the exercises. It will also activate the elasticity of the muscle fibers, preparing them for the coming workout. It should be noted that post-workout abdominal stretches will always be longer in time and more intense, while those that you dedicate to warm-up should be shorter and lighter and be accompanied by a few minutes of cardio exercise.
2. Don’t just focus on one area of abs
It is a common mistake to stretch abs by focusing only on a certain area and leaving others unworked. Remember that this is a large muscle group, which includes external and internal muscles, as well as upper, lower and oblique abs – they all have to be stretched! There are many stretches for abs and obliques but there are two that should be included:
- Trunk lift : lying on your stomach and with your hands at shoulder height thoroughly stretches right through the abdominal area.
- Lateral extensions: standing, arms outstretched and hands clasped above the head, laterally bend the trunk to the right and return to the center. Repeat to the left side. The twisting motion reaches into the side muscles of the obliques.
3. Slow movements help stretch abs correctly
For the most effective results it is best not to rush through your time of stretching. Abdominal stretches help the muscles recover their state of rest and natural position. You must stretch slowly, without forcing, allowing time for the muscle fibers to stop being contracted. Too rough a stretch would be counterproductive. Of course, if you notice pain when doing the abdominal stretch, you should stop immediately. The action and effect of a stretch is noticeable but, done right, it is never painful.
4. Maintain the posture
Any stretch has two phases: gradually lengthen the muscle and keep it stretched for a few seconds. Whether you are doing trunk lifts, lateral twists, or any other exercise, remember that you should not only perform the movement slowly, but also keep the muscle as stretched as possible for at least 15 seconds. Holding the correct position of the stretch for an extended period of time helps your body get the best results, promoting blood flow and oxygenation into the whole abdominal area.
5. Breathe deep
Stretching not only helps the recovery of the muscles, but it will also help you to normalize your breathing and heart rate. As you make the effort to stretch abs correctly, take a deep breath to accompany the movement itself. Remember that it is about maintaining the maximum stretch posture for a few seconds, but not while holding your breath. Forgetting to breath correctly means that your muscles retain their contraction and will not allow you to achieve the benefits of the stretch.