The internal obliques are a group of abdominal muscles which wrap around from the spine to the middle of the abdomen, rather a lot like a girdle. These muscles perform a number of functions, both independently and in concert with other abdominal muscles. There are a number of exercises which can be used to strengthen and tone the internal obliques, and these exercises are often integrated into exercise programs which are designed to increase overall abdominal strength.
These muscles lie just under the external obliques. Together with other abdominal muscles, they support the abdominal wall and keep the contents of the abdomen protected and under pressure so that they stay in place. The internal obliques are also involved in the function of the diaphragm, supporting the rib cage and abdomen as people breathe in and out and facilitating the movement of the ribcage with the pattern of someone's breathing.
When people bend to the side, the internal obliques are involved, working in concert with the external obliques. In fact, one exercise used to tone these muscles involves bending to the side and holding, with the optional addition of a weight. Doing this helps to stretch the muscle out to promote a full range of motion, and also increases strength and tone in the external and internal obliques.
The internal obliques are also involved in bending and rotation of the spine. They work with other muscles to make movements of the spine smooth and stable to reduce the risk of injury and damage. Supporting the spine through movement is very important to protect the spinal cord and to help people walk, run, and engage in other movements with stability and confidence.
Having strong internal obliques is one part of having the much coveted “six-pack abs.” In addition to being aesthetically valued, toned abdominal muscles can also be beneficial to someone's health. These muscles provide support throughout someone's range of motion, and having toned abdominal muscles can prevent certain types of injuries in addition to helping people move more surely. Strong core muscles are especially valuable for athletes, dancers, and people who engage in weight lifting, as they provide a great deal of support.
Standalone exercises can strengthen the abdominal muscles, and practices such as yoga and pilates also have a lot of exercises and poses which work the internal obliques and other abdominal muscles as part of the overall practice. People should remember that working a muscle group in isolation is not always beneficial, making it important to go through a series of exercises to work multiple muscle groups, increasing overall tone and strength.