It is always important to include stretching as part of your total fitness plan. Stretching not only helps to prevent muscle stiffness and soreness after a workout, but it also offers many other impressive benefits. That includes increasing flexibility, releasing tension and stress and improving blood circulation. For the abdominal muscles, there are certain stretches in particular you should try. Ensure your body is relaxed and you are breathing throughout these exercises. Side Bends - This stretch will target your obliques. The further you lean away from your body, the deeper the stretch. Standing Spinal Twist - This twist will strengthen and improve the flexibility of your spine & waist. Cobra - This pose allows for a deep stretch once you have pressed your palms into the floor while allowing your head to lean back. Open through the chest, making sure to relax all your muscles. Take deep breaths, at least 5 or more, and then slowly lower your chest back to the ground. Childs Pose - Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips. Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs. Stay anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. Camel - Kneel on the floor with your knees hip width apart and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Press your shins and the tops of your feet firmly into floor. Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis, bases of the palms on the tops of the buttocks, fingers pointing down. Use your hands to spread the back pelvis and lengthen it down through your tail bone. Lean back against the firmness of the tail bone and shoulder blades. For the time being keep your head up, chin near the sternum, and your hands on the pelvis. Beginners probably won’t be able to drop straight back into this pose, touching the hands to the feet simultaneously while keeping the thighs perpendicular to the floor. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to a minute and then slowly release out of the pose.