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From bending over to tie your shoes to stretching up to reach items on the top shelf, the muscles in your waist contribute to just about everything you do throughout the day. Maintaining strong and flexible core muscles in the waist contributes to maintaining posture, balance stability and improved athletic ability. Waist and core flexibility reduces the risk of injury and conditions that contribute to lower back pain.
Muscles of the Waist
When it comes to muscles of the waist, the main target is the oblique muscles. These muscles are responsible for bending forward and to the side, as well as twisting at the waistline. In addition to the oblique muscles, your core includes muscles of the abdomen, diaphragm, pelvic floor, back, hips, buttocks and even the hamstrings. Together, these muscles contribute to the movement of your torso.
This stretching exercise targets the oblique muscles. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Raise your arms above your head. As you exhale, slowly lean to the right side until you feel a moderate stretch in your torso. Hold this stretch for five seconds. As you inhale, return to the starting position. Repeat to the left side. This counts as one repetition. Repeat for 10 repetitions. As your flexibility improves, hold the stretch for a longer period.
Stability Balls and Your Core
A stability ball added to your workout program provides an additional workout for your core muscles. Because the ball requires you to balance your body, activation of the core muscles is constant. Active sitting, or simply sitting on the stability ball, engages your core muscles. Adding exercises, such as the oblique stretch mentioned previously, to the stability ball enables you to target multiple core muscles at one time. For example, the stability ball prone walkout exercise targets the obliques, erector spinae, rectus abdominis and the transverse abdominis.
Before beginning any new exercise program, consult your physician. This is especially true if you suffer from a medical condition or are recovering from an injury. When performing these exercises, you should feel a mild stretch in your muscles. You should not feel pain. If you experience pain, discontinue the exercise and consult your physician. In order to increase flexibility, the Mayo Clinic recommends performing stretching exercises two to three times per week.