The Camel pose is based around a large back bend, putting all levels of the spine into full extension. By adding hip extension and a knee bend to the extended torso, this puts the superficial front line (SFL) and deep front line (DFL) onto a full stretch. However, in this article I am going to focus upon what occurs in the chest, shoulders and arms during the Camel pose and its effect on upper torso extension. There are two fascial lines that run across the front of the upper torso and along the front of the arms. These are known as the Deep Front Arm Line (DFAL) and the Superficial Front Arm Line (SFAL). The main muscles in the DFAL and SFAL include the pectorals (minor and major), biceps and wrist flexors. The role of the DFAL and SFAL is wrist and elbow flexion and movement of the arm in front of the body. A classic example of the muscles being worked simultaneously in the DFAL and SFAL is when someone is hugging something. When these muscles become tight it limits the amount you are able to reach backwards and straighten your arms. More importantly than this it has a negative effect on the amount you are able to extend/arch your upper back. These fascial lines are very often tight and shortened in desk workers as they are often seated with poor postures and their arms in front of them. Therefore, if the DFAL and SFAL are tightened and shortened, the Camel pose will be difficult to achieve.
• If the upper back is tight even more pressure will be put onto the lower back to try and accommodate for the lack of extension further up the spine, this can put the lower back at more risk of injury not just in this pose, but in everyday living.
• Tight pectorals will make upper back extension difficult and chronically shortened pectorals will cause poor upper spine posture. A good length in the pectorals is vital therefore to enable the arms to reach the feet/floor in this pose.