Yesterday I travelled into London on the train and all four people around me spent the journey looking at their mobile phone.
They all held their phone close to their stomach and peered down at it. From time to time the young woman opposite me lifted her head, moved her neck about with audible clicks and pops and then dropped it back down to her phone. After a while, she abandoned the phone and rummaged in her handbag, brought out a mirror which she held to her stomach and again peered down into it to check her makeup. Then again cracked her neck, then back to her MOB.
For once I’m slightly lost for words. Of course, dealing with a single text peering down at the phone is no issue. We are meant to be able to use our bodies in multiple positions. It’s just the length of time we hold a position.
A prime cause of pain and, indeed, injury is what we do to ourselves everyday – or what we don’t do, I suppose. Basically, the head weighs about 5kg or 10lbs. Put 5 kg on top of a long, bendy pole – the spine – and move the 5kg forwards and something has to work hard to hold that 5kg in position. Of course, the pole may or may not bend forwards. The muscles that will be busy hanging onto our head are the same muscles that get very tight when we are stressed: the upper traps and the levator scapulae. Also the bones in our spine start to lay down calcification to make them resistant to the constant weight of the head, so the bendy spine loses bendiness and the squishy bits between the vertebrae lose their squish. There have even been laws made about this: Wolf’s law and Davis’ law which state that tissues model to imposed demands – Wolf’s concern the bones and Davis’ everything else. So what we do the most of is what our body changes itself to. And if what we do to ourselves increases load on the muscles of tension, our levels of tension and stress build up and up. Inside the brain, it knows nothing of the outside world, only what information is sent in from the eyes, inner ears, muscle tension, joint position and so on. So if we sit for prolonged periods in a position of stress – head poked forwards, shoulders in ears, the brain interprets this as being stressed and triggers the stress cascade. Which is not good news.
Of course, we can stretch and mobilise and so on – we can even do our Z health drills and rebalance our eyes and inner ears. But until we pay attention to our moment to moment body position remedial work merely slows the slide into creaking crumblidom. Zimmer frames with go faster stripes anybody?