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Specific questions regarding Cobra stretches

Posted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 8:59 am
by rkochis
As a firm believer in the RYB program (two weeks into it), I have a couple specific question regarding the Cobra stretch. (the most important RYB exercise). I struggle with this one probably because of the inflexibilty caused by 61 years of improper posture and exacerbated by scoliosis, stenosis, L3/4 herniation and L5 bulging. Here are my questions:
1) If properly "warmed up", are Steps 1 and Steps 2 needed BOTH before and after Step 3? If so, what purpose do Step 1 and Step 2 serve AFTER Step 3? (assuming Step 1 and Step 2 serve as "warm ups" when executed BEFORE Step 3)
2) The diagram for Step 3 shows the elbows being bent. I can get a more relaxed and deeper stretch if I move my palms a little forward and STRAIGHTEN my arms (which raises my head and increases the spine angle). Is this permissable under the RYB program.
3) Over time, should I feel a reduction of the "tightness" of this movement as the muscles and ligaments lengthen? If so, is there a hazard in holding the Step 3 stretch for 15-30 seconds (rather than "a couple seconds")once I am able to do so ?

Posted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 8:32 am
by Dean
I don't like to publicly sign off on modifying the exercises because that could just add to the confusion.

I am doing a series of articles on Herniated discs which I hope will make certain things clear as to why I have you doing certain exercises a certain way.

The Cobra is far more than just a stretching exercise. Each step is actually doing something more that what they seem. In addition to the obvious warm up and stretching aspects...

Step 1 is a mild form of decompression
Step 2 is more decompression with excellent reverse compressive loading (pushing the nucleus back towards center).
Step 3 is good for stretching ligaments (obvious) but also aggressive decompression, passive mobilization of facet joints, and more aggressive reverse compressive loading.

Repeating steps 2 and 1 as a "finisher" just seems to work well. I would recommend that everyone keep doing them even if they seem redundant.

As far as holding the stretch longer... like you say 15 to 30 seconds... I do quite often. (Muscles should be relaxed. Never a need to strain or push hard.)

As far as technique, place your hands however is most comfortable for you and doesn't place stress on your joints. It's okay to fully extend your arms during step 3.

With all the exercises, being comfortable and relaxed while doing them should always be your first consideration.


Posted: Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:29 pm
by schuess
I agree with Dean. Stay relaxed. Do these exercises every two hours, says my PT who endorsed them highly.