Lateral flexion is a movement that bends the body to the right or left side. It helps to open up the side-body, strengthens the obliques, and is helpful in increasing flexibility of the spine. Lateral flexion also opens up the ribcage, helping to expand the lungs and aid in deeper breathing. As with spinal flexion and extension, there is potential to compress the lower back when moving into lateral flexion. It is therefore important to create length (axial extension) before bending the body to the side.