Oblique muscles are muscles of the abdomen that helps in twisting the trunk, bend sideways and also helps in breathing. These muscles are connected to the ribs located on the upper side and on top of the hip bone in the lower end. The two types of oblique muscles are the external and internal oblique.
The larger external oblique muscles are located on the upper area of the abdomen below the skin and subcutaneous fat while the internal oblique muscles can be found deep below the external oblique muscle on both sides of the trunk.
These muscles can be painful and strained due to direct trauma on the abdomen, overuse and forcefully twisting or bending the body. Straining of the oblique muscle can be caused by engaging in certain activities such as bending exercises or twisting, a forceful movement in sports such as in cricket or rowing, a chronic cough, lifting heavy objects and raking the soil.
What are the symptoms of a strained oblique muscle?
- Pain and stiffness on the affected area.
- A strong twist or bending of the trunk can cause the oblique muscles to stretched out and result to a microscopic tear. This can cause severe pain that can be felt at the side of the abdomen and the lower end of the chest.
- A pain that increases when the individual engages in physical activity. The pain can be felt after the pull or persists even when the individual is at rest. If it is just a minor strain, the symptoms can become severe when the individual engages in physical activity.
- The oblique muscles can become stiff when they are pulled and usually felt when waking up in the morning. It prevents the person from doing his/her regular activities. The injury is quite common among those who play sports such as cricket, rowing and golf.
- If there is severe straining, the side muscles swell and become weak along with bruising and tenderness when touched.
- Sometimes, deep breathing, laughing or coughing can make the pain worse in the lower side of the chest and abdomen.
Treatment and home remedies for oblique muscle strain
- The affected person should avoid engaging in activities especially playing sports for at least two weeks to promote faster healing of the affected area.
- Apply a cold compress on the affected area for 10-15 minutes in order to help minimize the pain and swelling.
- Massage the affected area using coconut oil since it helps in relaxing the strained oblique muscles. A gentle massage on the affected area helps in increasing the circulation of blood so that the damaged muscle fibers will have sufficient nutrients required for proper healing.
- Apply a heating pad over the affected area since it helps relax the spasms of muscles.
- The individual should perform gentle breathing exercises or stretching exercises to help relax the muscle spasms.