Questions about Stretching and Crunching

ql on back     Crunches

I welcome comments and questions so don’t hesitate to ask. Reader Cliff wrote in with two questions.

The first question was whether or not it is good to stretch first thing in the morning when you wake up as some people don’t advocate such a practice?

Personally, I like stretching as soon as I wake up—it feels very good. And it is a more intuitive than scientific thing. For one I don’t have any pain or injuries.  I have minor neck and shoulder issues when I sleep and gentle stretches when I wake up really help me with that. I also do forward bends and side stretches as well but there is a big difference between stretching and stretching correctly. If I were to stretch and not feel good an hour later I would probably stop.

The second question is more complicated but one of my favorite subjects.  The question was why I think most people need to shorten the rectus abdominis (sit ups muscle) when for some this leads to an excessively kyphotic or rounded upper back?

Forgetting the concept of strength or even exercise, everyone needs to make a postural assessment of their own body. First, stand up in a way that you think is straight, or good posture. Then try and feel the relationship between the rectus abdominis and the erector spinea of the spine. They should be balanced in length and tone. I think everyone leans backwards when they are standing and walking. If this is the case the muscles of the lower back (quadratus lumborum, erector spinea etc.) will be shorter than the rectus abdominis which will lengthen to accommodate the tight lower back muscles. If that is the case you will need to both lengthen the lower back muscles and shorten the rectus abdominis. Most people don’t realize this. If you shorten the rectus abdominis with tight lower back muscles this will lead to excessive kyphosis, or rounding of the upper back, but if you shorten the rectus after lengthening the lower back muscles it will lead to better posture.

The body is a mystery and every individual comes with her or her own twists and turns. There is no one way. There is the way that works best for each person and the work is coming to an understanding of what you need to help and heal yourself.