The Side-Bend Stretch: A Gentle Exercise
The side stretch exercise stretches and strengthens the intercostal muscles. These are the muscles between the ribs. They help support the ribs.
To do the side stretch:
Sit in a sturdy chair with your feet flat on the floor or stand with feet hip-width apart.
Lean forward slightly to keep from "hunching" your back and shoulders.
Keep your hips, shoulders, and ears in a straight up-and-down line.
Raise your right arm overhead and bend your upper body to the left in a reaching motion. Keep your upper body facing straight ahead—don't twist it to the side as you bend.
Make sure you feel the muscles gently stretch all along your side from your lower back up to your shoulder.
Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Return to the starting position. Repeat the stretch 2 times.
Switch sides and do the stretch in the opposite direction. Repeat twice.
Demonstration of the side stretch beginning position.
Demonstration of a side stretch
Check with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program if you have a health problem or have been inactive. Your provider can also help you find an exercise program to meet your needs and physical condition.