Contest To Sit Up Straight - A Hint
The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Contest To Sit Up Straight - A Hint

In October, I offered readers a chance to show what they learned - a contest to tell "What do you need to do to go from sitting with a rounded spine to straightened?" Does it take strengthening? Stretching? Perhaps (hint) something else? Readers have been writing in.

We have three excellent answers so far that will be announced as contest winners along with reader BikaBill who sent in winning photos. There is still time to send in yours to be among the winners. About thirty to forty wrote claiming some vague involvement of abdominal muscles. Pop fitness throws around "abs" so much that odd ideas get ingrained that are not real anatomy.

To help with your contest and your real life, which is the idea of the contest:

Hint 1

  1. Abdominal muscles curl your spine forward.
  2. If you are already sitting rounded forward, you do not want to curl forward more. You need the opposite - back muscles to unround, not the abdominal muscles in front.
  3. Readers correctly noticing the tilted back pelvis that is part of rounded spine in the photo of bad sitting (note the stripes pointing back at the side of the hip instead of vertical) were correct that the top of the hip/pelvis needs to pull forward, to reduce the angle between pelvis and leg so that the pelvis can straighten to upright and vertical. Abdominal muscles do not that do that. Abdominal muscles do not connect to your leg, so cannot move your leg closer to your body or your body closer to your leg.
  4. Think what muscles may be the ones you need instead. Then, do strong muscles move all by themselves?

Hint 2

Mr. Georges Nakhlé is my director of the Lebanon office of The Academy of Functional Exercise Medicine (AFEM), the teaching arm of my practice. He instructs classes and wrote in to help readers:

Mr. Nakhlé writes:

My answer is: Muscles required to contract are : the paravertebrals (extension of vertebrae), trapezius inferior (adduction and lowering of scapula), the deltoideus posterior and latissimus dorsi (extension of arm) and the rhomboideus (for scapula stabilization)

Muscles required to stretch: pelvi-trochanters to ease the medial rotation of the pelvis on the femur and the pectoralis major

Muscles required to straighten the back: the major work goes for the Latissimus dorsi and a part for paravertebrals; the rhomboideus for scapula stabilization, the trapezius inferior for scapula lowering, the triceps brachii for arm extension.

Another contest question was:
>Explain why the same tightness or weakness does not show itself standing where people often hyperlordose instead of flex the lower spine.

Mr. Nakhlé writes:

Tightness when standing: When standing the psoas is stretched so it pulls the lumbar vertebrae, and if the rectus femoris is tight it will tilt the pelvis in an anterior pelvic tilt.
Weakness when standing: when standing we don't need muscle strength, just little adjustments.

Readers what do you think?

Here is the Contest. Send In Your Answers, Winners Announced Next Week:

Fun Contests Still Open:

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Thank you to djwhelan - Slouching and calling it fitness photo
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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.