The obliques are thin

The obliques are thin, superficial muscles on the lateral sides of the abdominal area of the body. The obliques get their name because the fibers in the muscle run horizontally instead of laterally. They are broad muscles that spread from the ribs to the iliac crest and are responsible for lateral flexion and rotation. The obliques perform the act of side bending and rotating the upper body. They also contract which results in the compression of the abdominal cavity. Athletes constantly use their oblique muscles, and because of this oblique strains are common in active people. They help maintain balance and are needed to lift heavy objects.
An oblique strain is a tearing of the oblique muscle either from direct impact, overuse, or a sudden sharp movement of the muscle. There are three levels of oblique strains. Level one is mild, level two is a moderated strain, and level three is severe. In the case of a level three sprain the muscle is ruptured. The obliques are strained usually in the movements they perform, so strains happen from lateral flexion or rotation. Oblique injuries most commonly occur from trunk rotation. A oblique strain usually happens on the non- dominant side. Oblique strains are also referred to as side strains and can result from hard coughing or sneezing, direct punches, bad posture, and movement after a abdomen surgery with wounded tissue. The most common athletes to obtain an oblique strain are baseball pitchers, swimmers, tennis players, and golfers. They are prone to getting oblique strains because of the movement their sport requires. All of these sports have lateral flexion and rotation movement. Tennis players and swimmers have a overhead arm motion which can pull on the obliques while baseball pitchers and golfers rotate to throw the ball or to swing the golf club. Weight lifters can also be prone to oblique strains when they lift too heavy weights without proper form. It is easy for all athletes to get an oblique strain without proper stretching.
The signs and symptoms of an oblique strain are pain, stiffness, and achiness. It can result in shooting pain in the lower chest region and goes to the hips. There will be limited range of motion and it will hurt to stretch and rotate the abdomen. There will also be stiffness when the patient wakes up in the morning, because the obliques are used throughout the day. Depending on the severity of the sprain there will also be bruising, swelling, and point tenderness. It may also be painful to laugh, cough, or sneeze. If it is a level three sprain there will be intense pain and then it will most likely decrease as the nerves are damaged, because the muscle is completely torn. In this case there will be absolutely no range of motion.
Oblique strains will take about six to twelve weeks to fully heal depending on their severity. A level three sprain can take three months to heal completely. As soon as pain is being experienced in the obliques, ice should be applied to prevent swelling and pain by limiting the blood supply to the injured region. Ice should be crushed to mold to the contours of the body and never applied directly to the skin. Ice for ten to twenty minutes with an hour in between. Rest is also necessary while the obliques heal to prevent further damage. Activities where the obliques are used should be especially avoided. Compression will also help the oblique muscle to heal. It will offer support and reduce pain. After three days, heat should then be placed on the injured area. A warm water bottle in a towel or a hot compress should be used. It will increase the blood supply and nutrients to the injured region. Heat should be applied for ten to twenty minutes with an hour in between. A massage can also help in the healing process of an oblique strain. Massages will increase the flow of blood to the injured area, which will decrease the healing length. The massage can also help the muscle relax, which reduces pain and stiffness. Pain medication like aspirin and ibuprofen can also be taken to help lessen pain and swelling.
After the strain has begun to heal a brace should be worn when the patient is going to perform actions that would move the obliques. This limits the range of motion of the obliques so they are not used in any way that could cause more damage or undo any progress made. The brace will also offer support to the muscles as they return to activity, because they will be weak from lack of use. There are many stretches that will help strengthen the oblique muscle as they heal. One rehabilitation exercise is to stand with the feet shoulder length apart, slowly raise the arm on the injured side and carefully lean in the opposite direction of the injured side. This position should be held for thirty seconds. Another exercise is to plank. The patient should be in push up position with the feet shoulder length apart. The plank position should be held for twenty seconds. Side planks can also be done to treat oblique strains. The patient should lie on the injured side and push off the ground onto the forearm. This position should be held for twenty seconds. The last exercise is the upward facing dog. The person should lie down on the floor and then push of the ground with their arms. The upper half of the body should be off the ground, while the lower half should still be face down on the ground. This position should be held for ten to thirty seconds. If the injured person feels pain or tearing they should stop exercising, as it can lead to more damage to the muscle. If pain persists or the person has feeling of numbness and can not move then they should see a doctor. None of the exercises should be performed until cleared by a physician, so the strain is not made worse. If conditions do not improve or the strain is severe enough a doctor may have to perform surgery. The doctor may have to stitch the tear together if it is a extreme level two or a level three sprain.