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External Oblique Muscle

The external oblique muscle, a crucial component of the human body’s muscular system, plays a pivotal role in various movements and stability. This comprehensive guide delves into the anatomy, functions, significance, and health of the external oblique muscle, offering insights for fitness enthusiasts, medical students, and anyone interested in human anatomy.

Understanding the External Oblique Muscle

Anatomy and Location

The external oblique muscle, located on the lateral and anterior parts of the abdomen, is the largest and most superficial of the three flat muscles in this area. It extends from the lower ribs to the iliac crest, covering the sides of the abdominal region.

See Also: Internal Oblique Muscle

Key Features:

  • Origin: Arises from the outer surfaces of the lower eight ribs.
  • Insertion: Fibers converge into a broad, flat tendon, terminating at the linea alba, pubic tubercle, and anterior half of the iliac crest.
  • Innervation: Intercostal nerves (T7- T11), Subcostal nerve (T12).
  • Blood Supply: Lower posterior intercostal arteries, subcostal artery, deep circumflex iliac artery
External Oblique Muscle anatomy

External Oblique Function and Movement

Core Functions:

  1. Trunk Rotation: Facilitates the rotation of the trunk and spine.
  2. Lateral Flexion: Aids in bending the torso to the side.
  3. Abdominal Compression: Assists in compressing the abdominal contents, aiding in digestion and breathing.
  4. Postural Support: Provides stability and support to the upper body.

Significance in Health and Fitness

Role in Athletic Performance

  • Enhanced Stability: Crucial for balance and core strength in various sports.
  • Injury Prevention: Strong external obliques contribute to lower risk of abdominal and lower back injuries.

Importance in Everyday Activities

  • Posture Maintenance: Essential for maintaining an upright posture.
  • Breathing Support: Assists in the breathing process, particularly during exertion.

Common Injuries and Disorders

Types of Injuries

  1. Strains and Tears: Overexertion or improper movement can lead to muscle strains.
  2. Hernias: Weakness in the muscle can lead to abdominal hernias.

Prevention and Management

External oblique pain treatment include:

  • Regular Exercise: Strengthening and flexibility exercises.
  • Proper Technique: Ensuring correct form during physical activities.
  • Immediate Attention: Seeking medical help for pain or discomfort in the abdominal area.

External Oblique Strengthening

Effective Exercises

  1. Side Planks: Enhances lateral stability.
  2. Russian Twists: Improves rotational strength.
  3. Bicycle Crunches: Targets the obliques for core conditioning.

Training Tips

  • Consistency: Regular training for gradual strengthening.
  • Variety: Incorporating different exercises for balanced development.
  • Safety: Avoid overexertion and focus on proper form.


The external oblique muscle, a vital part of our muscular system, is essential for various physical functions, from sports performance to daily activities. Understanding its anatomy, functions, and the importance of maintaining its health is crucial for overall well-being. Regular exercise, proper care, and attention to any discomfort in this area can ensure its optimal functioning and prevent potential injuries.

References & More

  1. Clinically Oriented Anatomy – 8th Edition
  2. Schlenz I, Burggasser G, Kuzbari R, Eichberger H, Gruber H, Holle J. External oblique abdominal muscle: a new look on its blood supply and innervation. Anat Rec. 1999 Aug 1;255(4):388-95. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0185(19990801)255:4<388::AID-AR4>3.0.CO;2-Q. PMID: 10409811. Pubmed
  3. Nakai Y, Kawada M, Miyazaki T, Araki S, Takeshita Y, Kiyama R. A self-oblique exercise that activates the coordinated activity of abdominal and hip muscles-A pilot study. PLoS One. 2021 Aug 12;16(8):e0255035. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0255035. PMID: 34383772; PMCID: PMC8360586. Pubmed
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