Kinesiology of Exercise

The Good Morning

Bending forward with a rounded spine - especially when you are holding weights in your hands, on your shoulders, or when you lift an object off the floor can be dangerous. To learn how to improve your ability to bend correctly from your hips and to maintain your spine in its normal slightly arched position, you should do the good morning exercise. 

Major Muscles and Actions Involved

The gluteus maximus, hamstrings and the upper hamstring tendons are involved in hip joint extension. At the same time, the erector spinae muscle is involved in statically holding the spine in proper alignment. In this exercise the trunk is raised up and back from a forward lean position with the axis of rotation in the hips.

Sports Uses

The muscles and actions involved in the good morning are needed in football (linemen coming off the line), weightlifting (snatch and clean and jerk), and in powerlifting (deadlift). The exercise is great for running in the pawback action, for stretching the hamstrings, fielding in baseball and softball, jumping, gymnastics, diving and various moves in wrestling.

Exercise Analysis

  • The major workload in execution of this exercise falls on the hip joint extensor muscles: the gluteus maximus, and the hamstrings. Your back (erector spinae) muscles are contracted isometrically to hold the spine in place (in its arched position) and not allow any spinal ovement. However, it should be noted that this isometric contraction (admittedly not as effective as the concentric contraction) also strengthens the spinal muscles. Thus, the entire back side (posterior chain) is strengthened as a unit.  
  • In the early stages of doing this exercise, use lighter weights and execute the exercise at a slow to moderate speed. This allows you to learn and become accustomed to the exercise more effectively. When you can perform the exercise correctly, gradually increase the weight but still keep them within your capabilities. 
  • As an advanced exercise the good morning is done with the legs kept straight. To do this, considerable hip joint flexibility and balance are needed. Also, you must have strong spinal and hip joint extensor muscles. Do not execute this exercise in
    this manner until you meet these conditions. 
  • It should also be noted that the good morning is an excellent exercise for stretching the hamstrings. The usual sit and reach or standing toe touch (which is touted as one of the best hamstring stretches) actually stretches the spinal ligaments more than the hamstrings. 
  • For example, in the standing toe touch, when you incline your trunk forward in a relaxed state, the erector spinae muscles contract eccentrically to control the downward motion, but only for approximately 45 degrees. When you drop your trunk lower by rounding the lower back, the muscles are no longer holding the spine in place. At this time you are literally hanging by the ligaments. And if you wish to touch the floor with your hands you must do even more stretching of stretch the ligaments. This is an extreme example of flexibility, far beyond the normal range of motion in the waist for most individuals. 
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