Spines are like opinions.
Everyone has one. Not everyone ACTS like they have one.
The way I simplify spine ownership is to describe 7 directions.
Elongation or length is the most neglected and the most important dimension of the spine. Using connective tissue and muscles with tendons and ligaments to preserve or regain space between vertebrae is critical to a healthy structure.
The other 6 are more obvious and get more attention:
- Forward bending
- Back bending
- Left side bending
- Right side bending
- Twisting Clockwise
- Twisting Counter Clockwise.
So I often refer dangerously to the optimal operation of the human body and the spine in particular as a socialist system.
The safest most functional spine distributes work and load bearing as diffusely and evenly as possible. Everyone in the spine, all the vertebrae suffer and rejoice together. They are forever linked by proximity and the central nervous system.
What happens when certain sectors do more work than the others is first UNFAIRNESS, followed by increasing imbalance and eventually reduction in capacity or even failure.
Failure, I describe as the overworked disc or musculature saying screw you guys, I am going home. It inflames, tears, spasms or just locks at a fixed position and sits down on the side lines and silently indicates all you jerks that have been watching and doing nothing to help can now just suffer or start taking over.
It’s usually I warned you, I warned you, I tried to tell you, I dropped hints….and you ignored me for a really unreasonable length of time until you all forced me to send the ultimate eat this loser maneuver.
What I observe in even the most avid LA yoginis is a faltering to associate the underlying lessons of yoga asanas to daily movement.
“Oh my gawd, I just love yoga!” is lip service without demonstrated respect.
Your every moment in your human form is an expression of your ability to understand skeletal organization and your relationship with gravity. People stand hours a day, but only well when a Lululemon swathed lithe beta female utters the instructions “now MOUNTAIN pose”?
There is a problem here Houston.
Spine neutral is not just for world class ballerinas and power rangers. It’s for everyone everyday.
We need to spend as much time as close as possible to this functional ideal. [I am struggling to learn to make shades of gray statements to allow for more softened delivery of ideas to people that have never even ventured into the thoughts where I spend my majority of brain time. It’s difficult because if blatant descriptions fail to be met with comprehension, why would inuendo be more successful? That seems like an entire alternate dissertation on communication.]
The randomized swiss cheese-like educational system:
Some schools removed physical education. No one teaches lower school physical therapy or posture.
Women’s lib caused unexpected losses in American culture. One of them was the death of finishing schools. My own mother was at her first quarter of sleep away women’s finishing school when to her dismay realized she was pregnant with moi. She had to leave. And that generation was the last one to get a stab at posture training as part of preparing for an adult future as professional women or trained matriarchs with poise and social preparation.
Then the smart phones came. So we have thumb dominant youth, some with no sports exposure, curling vulture like over the hands at waist level creating a thoracic curvature that would have made finishing school instructors scream, pound the floor with a walking stick or set you in a corner on a high stool with a heavy book on your head.
My quip that has been met with either a light bulb over a noggin or humiliation and resentment is “Arms are for holding objects up to your face. Necks are not for hanging heads down to your hands.”
“Necks are not strings! They are pedestals.”
I would also launch into an animated pantomime like demonstration of big game fishers hauling enormous marlins from the petulant ocean waters. I would desperately attempt to draw an association for students between the straining fishing pole, the fisherman strapped rigorously to the deck chair bolted to the deck stressed to near breaking yarding against an enormous fish fighting for its life pulling in the opposite direction.
This is what you are doing to C-7. The seventh vertebra down from the base of your skull is getting stressed horribly because your 8 to 12 pound skull is plunging towards earth and everything below C-7 is straining to raise it back up to above the midline. And you spend your whole day in this orientation? Wow, rough day.
Most of everyday, most people are spending the greatest percentage of time bent forward, leaning forward, piked at the hips and tucking the knees towards the belly. Year after year of never leaning back or spending even 60 full second completely erect causes permanent adaptations to the resting lengths and rigidities in the positional soft tissues.
Then pain appears on the scene smiling rubbing its hands together like a vampire. Hey you invited me into the anthology your writing here dawg. And HERE I am! Rejoice!
Yoga is one of the only endeavors (when presented well) takes the human form through all its joint mobilizations and orientations to earth or gravity. This as a ritual preserves and fortifies the healthy functionality of people and movement.
Oh yes, chi and rainbows, chanting, zen oneness with the ohm universe all that too….Only freaky geeks and nerds are fascinated by anything without artifice, dogma and ritualistic cultures so we must dress stuff up beyond recognition then squeeze our eyes tightly shut and hope for a good outcome.
For plain folk or people in a hurry, it is possible to quickly visit all the basic joint mobilizations and spinal positions each day. I advise it!
If I showed you a flex tubing pulled long and then demonstrated the 7 directions listed in my opening you would understand what I did to the tubing. Do that with your spine each day. Then hover closely to spine neutral throughout the day to the best of your ability and understanding.
Hips, ankles and knees are meant to bend and reposition the body. Arms to lift object towards the head and spine. Avoid using your spine out of neutral to not use your arms and legs.
This is a simple way of saying something rather complex. I hope it gets you to do something positive to help yourself.
Be the BEST YOU EVER!