We talk a lot about posture and it’s effect on function and pathology on this site. I think the above classic drawing says it all. We are what I call an “anterior dominant” society. Everything we do in our lives results in muscle length and stretch imbalances as a result of our daily posture. Numerous injuries have been linked to these postural disturbances ranging from cervical headaches, to shoulder impingement, to bulging discs in your back., to plantar fasciitis.
Lately I started to think more about the Cobra yoga pose shown below and wondered, is this the best stretch of all time for postural issues in our society? Take a closer look at the two pictures below, notice anything?
The cobra pose is almost exactly the opposite of our standard sitting posture in our society. If you go joint by joint, the entire body is almost reversed in this stretch position. Take a closer look in this table:
|Sitting Posture||Cobra Pose|
|Lower Cervical Spine||Flexed||Extended|
|Upper Cervical Spine||Extended||Flexed|
My only minor complaint is that people unfamiliar with the pose or that may have moderate stiffness will have a difficult time getting their shoulders retracted well enough. But this is coachable and should be something that one can overcome.
Extension exercises are no secret and large components of popular manual therapy theories, such as the McKenzie Method, or if you take into consideration the deep frontal line from the Anatomy Trains concept. But I openly wonder if we should be using this stretch on more of our patients other than those experiencing low back pain, perhaps our shoulder impingement patients, for example. I know I feel better myself after performing this stretch.
Just like anything else, there are contraindications to this stretch and it isn’t for everyone, but I am starting to think it is grossly underused in our programs. What do you think?