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Abdominal Muscle Strain Exercises


You may do the first exercise right away. Once the pelvic tilt becomes easier, you can do the dead bug exercise. You may do the other exercises when the pain is gone.

  • Pelvic tilt: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles and push your lower back into the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then relax. Do 2 sets of 15.
  • Dead bug exercise: Lie on your back with your knees bent, arms at your sides, and feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles and push your lower back into the floor. While keeping your abdominal muscles tight, lift up one leg several inches off the floor, hold for 5 seconds, then lower it. Repeat this exercise with the opposite leg. Then lift your arm over your head, hold for 5 seconds, then lower it. Repeat with the opposite arm. Do 5 repetitions with each leg and arm. Once this exercise becomes easy, raise one leg and the opposite arm together. Hold for 5 seconds. Lower your arm and leg and raise the opposite arm and leg up and hold for 5 seconds. Do 3 sets of 5 repetitions.
  • Partial curl: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your stomach muscles. Tuck your chin to your chest. With your hands stretched out in front of you, curl your upper body forward until your shoulders clear the floor. Hold this position for 3 seconds. Don't hold your breath. It helps to breathe out as you lift your shoulders up. Relax back to the floor. Repeat 10 times. Build to 2 sets of 15. To challenge yourself, clasp your hands behind your head and keep your elbows out to the side.

After you have become good at the partial curl you can do a diagonal curl to help strengthen your oblique abdominal muscles.

  • Diagonal curl: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Stretch your arms out in front of you or clasp your hands behind your neck to support your head. Tighten your stomach muscles and lift your head and shoulders off the floor while rotating your trunk toward the right. Make sure you don't use your arms to lift your body off the floor. Hold this position for 3 seconds. Return to the starting position. Then rotate toward your left side. Do this 10 times on each side. Do 2 sets of 15.
  • Side plank: Lie on your side with your legs, hips, and shoulders in a straight line. Prop yourself up onto your forearm so your elbow is directly under your shoulder. Lift your hips off the floor and balance on your forearm and the outside of your foot. Try to hold this position for 15 seconds, then slowly lower your hip to the ground. Switch sides and repeat. Work up to holding for 1 minute or longer. This exercise can be made easier by starting with your knees and hips flexed toward your chest.

Written by Tammy White, MS, PT, and Phyllis Clapis, PT, DHSc, OCS, for RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-02-09
Last reviewed: 2009-05-25

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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