In the quest of achieving great abs, people often forget about stretching. After a hardcore abdominal workout, the abs can become tightened and sore. Depending on the exercises you've done, your lower abs may be more fatigued than the upper abs. Wherever you feel discomfort, you can alleviate it with a few post-workout abdominal stretches. Stretching will help you recover more quickly and prevent injury, so you can keep hitting your ab routine day after day.
Read more: 10 Most Effective Ab Workouts
Nothing feels quite as good after a tough ab workout than cobra pose. This yoga posture stretches your entire front body.
Lie on your stomach on an exercise mat. Place the palms of your hands on the mat next to your upper ribs, with your fingertips underneath your shoulders.
Keeping your elbows tucked into your sides, press through your palms to lift your upper body off the mat. Keep your legs straight and extended out behind you.
Lift up until you feel a stretch in your lower abdominal muscles, hold the pose for five to 10 breaths, then release.
Get deeper into the lower abs on each side and the hip flexors — the muscles at the the tops of your front thighs — by twisting gently to either side at the top of the stretch and holding for a few seconds.
If you feel any pain in your lower back, do not proceed. Instead, try a different stretch that does not hurt your back.
Stability Ball Stretch
Grab a stability ball and let gravity do all the work to ease tired ab muscles.
Sit on a large stability ball with your feet flat on the floor.
Walk your feet out and roll the ball under your back so that you are lying on the ball.
Open your arms out to the side and allow your body to loosely drape over the ball. Stay here for five to 10 long, deep breaths.
Standing Abdominal Stretch
If you're short on time after your ab workout, you can do this stretch without equipment.
Stand erect with your feet together or apart but parallel. Raise your arms up over head with your palms touching or facing in toward each other.
Tuck your tailbone slightly, then extend your spine up and over behind you a few inches until you feel a stretch in your lower abs. Keep your legs strong and toned to support your back.
Hold for five breaths.
You only need to bend backward a little bit in this stretch to get the benefit. Bending too far back can lead to pain and injury.
Read More: How to Stretch for Abdominal Pain