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External Obliques

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Updated November 22, 2005

Definition: The external obliques are a pair of abdominal muscles that lie superficial to the internal obliques. Where the fibers of the internal obliques run in an inverted V position from the bottom of the ribs to the front of the pelvis, the external obliques run in a V. The line is similar to the direction of putting your hands in your pockets.

The external obliques affect the spine, ribs and pelvis. They do several things:
  • flex the trunk forward
  • support and contain the abdominal contents
  • function during breathing, particularly exhale
  • rotate the ribs and pelvis in opposite directions from one another
  • tilt the pelvis
  • laterally flex the spine.
For some of these actions, the external obliques work with other abdominal muscles. This is especially true of the rotation and lateral flexion motions.
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