External Oblique

Diagram of posterior muscles.

The external oblique muscles are situated on the anterior and lateral parts of the abdomen. Due to their lateral location, these muscles can also be included in some views and descriptions of the posterior muscles of the human torso.

The external oblique muscles are closer to the surface of the body (i.e. more 'superficial') than the 'deeper' internal oblique muscles beneath them. Another way to remember this is to use the external part of the name external oblique as a clue, 'external' referring to 'closer to the surface of the body'.

Origin, Insertion and Actions of the External Oblique muscles:

Points of Origin:
  • Lateral surface of the 5th to the 12th ribs, i.e. the lower 8 ribs.
Points of Insertion:
  • Anterior half of the iliac crest
  • Linea alba, a region of white fibrous connective tissue situated along the (vertical) midline of the abdomen. (This divides the left and right rectus abdominus muscles and forms part of the definition of a muscular 'six pack'.)
Action(s): The external oblique muscles have several actions. The specific movements created or supported by these muscles depends on whether just one, or both, of the external oblique muscles is contracted. In general, they can:
  • Rotate, flex (bend), and laterally flex ('side-bend') the trunk or 'torso' of the body.
    • Contraction of both external oblique muscles compresses the abdomen and flexes the vertebral column.
    • Contraction of one external oblique muscle alone flexes the vertebral column laterally and rotates it.
  • Support the viscera (i.e. the organs within the body cavities, and especially the organs of the abdominal cavities, such as the stomach and other digestive organs).
  • Assist with exhalation.

The external oblique muscles are labelled on diagrams of the human anterior muscles and the human posterior muscles.

More about Muscles:

The following are some popular pages in the section about the human muscular system:

There are also more pages about the words used to describe muscles (terminology), the anatomy and physiology of muscles, muscular disorders and associated topics. See also books about sports medicine.

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