Giving the side of your torso a decent stretch is an important part of a good recovery routine, but this is an often neglected part of the body. Learn why you should take the time to pay attention to stretching out your side body.
What are we stretching?
The main muscles that we’re targeting when we lengthen out the side of our body are the intercostals which are located between your ribs. If you take your hands and place them on the sides of your upper ribcage then slip your fingers down on an angle towards the centre of your body (as if slipping them into pockets), you’ll get a feeling for where they are.
These muscles help facilitate deep breathing, so if you struggle to do this, adding side body stretches to your daily routine may help. Poor posture is one of the main reasons for these muscles to become tight. Chronic coughing or sneezing, and shallow or stressful breathing may also cause it over time.
How can I stretch my side body?
Taking deep breaths into your upper/middle ribcage, visualising the breaths expanding from the centre of your body cylindrically out to all sides, can help stretch the intercostals from the inside. If these muscles are tight, this may be difficult to do at first and could take practice.
This can work better if you are lying down on the floor with your arms relaxed on the floor above your head to open up more through the sides of the torso.
UP AND OVER
While sitting or standing, lift one arm up in the air above you then lean over to the side to draw your extended arm overhead and across your body. You can also create this shape while lying down on the floor. Breathe deeply into your ribcage.
This can be incorporated into a range of stretches or yoga poses, such as during a lunge, while doing a squat, seated cross-legged on the floor or while sitting with your legs folded underneath your body in Virasana (Hero’s Pose).