Chances are your abdominal muscles are tight and you don't know it. Sitting down frequently, whether in a car, at a desk or in front of the TV, contributes to the shortening of the muscles in the front of your body, including your abs. A simple way to fix this problem is to stretch your stomach daily. If your schedule doesn't allow for a daily stretch, do what you can -- start with two or three times per week.
The Bow Pose is a yoga exercise to stretch the abdomen and the rest of the front of the body. The pose is so named because your body will resemble the shape of a bow on its side. To do this stretch, lie face down on the floor and bend your knees. Then, raise your head, chest and legs off the floor and arch your back. Grab your ankles with straight arms and look up. To increase the stretch, raise your legs toward the ceiling and push your heels away from your glutes. Your knees should remain a hip's distance apart and only your stomach will touch the floor.
Back-Bending Stomach Stretch
The back-bending stomach stretch requires lying on your back on an exercise ball. Begin by sitting on a ball with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. The toes of your feet can turn out for better balance. Then, lean back and walk your feet forward until the ball is under your back and shoulders. Let your head relax toward the floor. Your arms should be held open at your sides and also relaxed toward the floor to open your chest. You'll feel this stretch in your stomach and chest. It stretches all the muscles of your abs, including the obliques, transverse abdominis and rectus abdominis.
Rotating Stomach Stretch
The rotating stomach stretch also stretches all the muscles of your abs. This stretch is particularly effective for the internal and external oblique muscles of your waist. To do the rotating stomach stretch, lie on your stomach with your legs straight on the floor. Your hands are placed on the floor next to your shoulders with your fingers pointing forward. Then, push your arms straight and raise your upper body off the floor. Bend your right arm and twist your torso to the right. You will feel the left side of your stomach stretching. Repeat on the other side.
Abdominal stretching exercises can be difficult with tight muscles and should be performed with caution especially if you are performing them for the first time. Before your stretching workout, perform a 10-miunute, light aerobic warm-up to increase your circulation and prepare your body. Activities such as a brisk walk, light jog or walking up a few flights of stairs gets your blood flowing and can increase your range of motion for a full stretch.