Even in Wisconsin, it’s been a lovely fall. As I’m writing, it’s about 60 degrees–at a time of year we wouldn’t be surprised to have snow on the ground.
But it will get colder and I’m going to be back to my old rant at my clients–and reminding myself–wear your scarf, put on that cute beanie, keep warm.
Why? What’s the big deal about keeping warm? High school girls never do; they’re always out at the bus stop in short shorts and open cardis, if that, even during blizzards. But have you looked at them? Notice their posture: shoulders pulled up to their ears; arms wrapped in tight, pulling shoulders forward; neck pulled down like a turtle. Maybe they can get away with it–for now.
But after years of that posture, you begin to change the whole way the framework of your body works. The shoulders become permanently pulled up and rounded forward and the cervical spine crunched. And that leads to one of the main complaints I hear from my clients: my neck and shoulders ache. Or worse. Sometimes it’s not an ache but an all out pain. Tightness when you try to turn your head. Numbness down one or both arms. All the way to that moment you pass a window and think “I’m all hunched over, just like my mother (or father).”
Our little cervical neck muscles aren’t designed to actually hold up the head. They’re designed to let us turn: mobility, not stability. What should keep us stable are those nice upper back muscles. They’re the ones that let the head just sit like a balloon, bobbing gracefully at the top of our body. Every hunch forward and every crunch up and down and we stop letting those muscles do their work to keep us stable. The kinetic chain breaks down.
And the problem doubles if you also don’t do any resistance training–and I’m looking at you, women, because you’re much less likely to think “strength” training is important and skip it in favor of walking the treadmill the entire time you’re at the gym.
Your body works from the ground up all the way to the top of your head in alternating stability-mobility pairs. That’s for another post but for the upcoming cold weather, it’s okay to focus on the top of that chain and keep warm enough to let those shoulders stay down, the neck lengthen and the upper back stay straight. Your reflection in the store window will thank you for it.