+Donna Martin
Dec 302012

What pain and symptoms are associated with the obliques muscles?

Pain patterns of the oblique muscles.

Pain in the side of the waist area, low abs, pelvis and groin can be caused by the oblique muscles.

  • Pain in the side, in the waist area
  • Pain in the groin area
  • Pain in the low abdomen
  • Heartburn and indigestion
  • Stone pain (pain in the testicles)
  • Pain in the pelvis area

Where are the internal and external obliques?

The obliques connect the ribs, top of the hip bone, fascia of the abdominals and lower back. The obliques are the muscles that are often thought of as the waist muscles.

What movements do the obliques muscles control?

  • Bending over
  • Twisting the torso
  • Side bending the torso
  • Assists with breathing

Activities that cause obliques pain and symptoms:

  • Over exercising muscles (twisting and side bending exercises)
  • Rowing
  • Raking leaves
  • Lifting using tools like shovels or pitchforks
  • Chronic coughing
  • Sitting for long periods of time
  • Poor posture

Interesting facts about the obliques muscles:

Internal and external oblique muscles

You use the oblique muscles when you bend or twist the trunk, and breathe.

The oblique muscles can contribute to pain and discomfort in the abdomen and groin area. It can also contribute to burning and discomfort in the urinary tract, bladder and  cause incontinence. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, a medical evaluation should be done to rule out underlying medical conditions before seeking therapeutic massage.

Clinical diagnoses to which this muscle symptoms may contribute:

Note: Pain and symptoms of the oblique muscles mimics many acute and chronic diseases, including cancer. It is important that a medical evaluation is conducted to rule out what could be life threatening causes.

  • Painful rib syndrome
  • Slipped Rib
  • Costochondritis
  • Acid Reflux
  • Heartburn
  • Appendicitis
  • Gallbladder Disorder
  • Colic
  • Constipation
  • Intestinal Obstruction
  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Urinary Tract Infection and Disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Diverticulosis
  • Ovarian Cyst
  • Endometriosis
  • Prostatitis

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the obliques:

Satellite Trigger Points of the Oblique Muscles:

External Oblique: Iliopsoas, Rectus Abdominis, Tranversus Abdominis, Iliocostalis Thoracics,  Iliocostalis Lumborum, Longissimus Thoracis
Internal Oblique: Serratus Anterior

Organ Systems Affected by Oblique Muscles:

  • Digestive System
  • Urinary System
  • Reproductive System

For detailed anatomy information see:  Obliques Anatomy

Help With External and Internal Oblique Muscle Pain

Because abdomen, groin and testicular pain can be caused by serious medical conditions, I do not recommend braces or supports until various medical causes are ruled out because supports can often mask symptoms that need attention. However I will recommend  the following products for those who are reasonably certain that their pain is caused by  injury or repetitive strain.

Cold Gel Therapy for Muscle Strain

Biofreeze is recommended for recent muscle injury

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain relieving gel and I use it for those who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries.  Biofreeze is better than warm therapy gels and creams for recent injury muscle pain as it cools the area much like ice and does not promote swelling.  A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 – 10 longer. Biofreeze  is recommended for those who have had a recent muscle injury or sudden onset pain. For relieve from pain caused by the oblique muscles, rub Biofreeze from just under the breasts down the front of the body to the pubic bone. Also treat both sides of body from the breast area to the hip bone.

Hot Cold Packs for Abdominal  and Rib Pain


SofTouch Large Hot Cold Pack is a large pack that can be used for hot or cold treatment. The pack is large enough to cover the oblique area. The inside of the pack contains a clay like substance that remains soft and pliable so you can mold the pack to your body. The outside of the pack is wrapped with soft suede like material that does not shock the skin when touched. My clients love this pack and it is now the only hot and cold pack that I use in my massage therapy practice.

To treat oblique muscle pain, lay the pack just under the breasts and allow the pack to drape over the sides of the body.

The Trigger Point Workbook can help you resolve muscle pain throughout your body.

Do you know that muscle ‘knots’ in the oblique muscles can contribute to  pain throughout the upper and lower abdomen?  This pain can also add to breathing difficulty.  

If you experiencing a combination of these symptoms, I  recommend you purchase Claire Davies  The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Mr. Davies explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language.  But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled. His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain,  how to find the trigger point and treat it. He also provides stretching and strengthening exercises for each muscle. If you suffer with unresolved upper and lower abdominal, or groin / testicular pain I highly recommend this book. It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body. Relieving trigger points throughout the abdominal area have helped many people resolve their pain issues. This book is a must have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.


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