Yoga2go - Moving People Since 2006

    The family neck

    My elderly aunt once told me how difficult it was to find pants that fit, ie, a pair  ‘without a butt and with a belly’. I had to laugh at her description but the fact of the matter is that dwindling buttocks is no longer just an issue for the elderly. This lack of a butt is an indication of a body that is in need of a different lifestyle. When the butt is no longer propelling you forward, you are probably going to be experiencing pain. My aunt was, mostly in her neck.

    Another aunt has the same issue, no butt and neck pain. She has seen the fysio, masseur and chiropractor, all with short term results. Her doctor finally sent her through to the neurologist who found nothing noteworthy. He deduced that her problem was ‘wear and tear’, nothing to be done but learn to live with it. Do less and perhaps some anti-depressants.

    My dad suffered from a lot of neck pain.
    My uncle has neck pain.
    I used to have neck pain.

    Sounds suspiciously like a family issue. Do you think we have some sort of genetic issue here? Are we van Leeuwens doomed to a life of no butts and sore necks?

    Or will anti-depressants help? If we all resort to the pills then Big Pharma is for sure celebrating good business. But is this good advice, good business for our collective dwindling butts and necks? Nope, not effective for No Butt Syndrome and as Dr David Servan-Schreiber writes in Healing without Freud or Prozac is also not so great for depression…

    So, getting back to the van Leeuwen family and our necks, our dwindling butts. What is going on?

    Here, a photo of me, showing off our family neck. Which is actually a cultural neck, when you start to look around you see that we are all doing it. Head forward, chin up. This causes the tiny muscles at the back of the skull to tighten up, the sub-occipitals. When these babies tighten it feels more normal to have our heads forward.

    The forward head and tight neck are more often than not related to an excessive rounded upper back, a hyper-kyphosis. Read this article about osteoporosis and hyper-kyphosis for some more insight into alignment and health. The forward head is also related to No-butt syndrome. It is also stress related. It is also breath related.
    In other words, this is a WHOLE BODY situation. Health is a WHOLE BODY situation.
    And pain is very complex. You can have the most degenerated spine with no pain and the best ever spine and be screaming in pain. I recommend Lorimer Moseley if you are interested in learning more about this subject, this Ted Talk is a good start.

    But whatever the reason, one thing is for sure, movement creates circulation, breathing better creates a healthy internal environment, being better stacked creates more ease. And breaking out of family issues (postural, habitual, behavioural, belief-al, whatever-al) means freedom. Enough of copying the postures of generations gone. Take the best and leave the rest.

    Do you recognise any of these patterns in your own posture or in your family? Get ProActive with these three exercises to start decompressing yourself.

    The Double Calf Stretch, the tightness of our posterior muscles starts at our feet. This picture from Thomas Meyer’s book Anatomy Trains shows the muscle/connective tissue connection from our feet all the way to the forehead. Tightness in the feet, calves and hamstrings affect the way we walk which affects our butt, spine and neck. Stretch your calves a-lot!

    The Upper Back Roll. Make sure that the back of your neck stays relaxed and long when doing this exercise. Releasing the tension in the upper back will relax your neck and your lower spine.

    The Sub-occiptal Release is a great exercise to really tune in to how you are feeling. A time to just chill out and become more sensitive to your body’s messages and a great time to relax your eyes. Place a towel over your eyes, the darkness will be delightful!

    Try this for 30 days, sprinkle the calf stretch regularly throughout the day and instead of sitting on the couch in the evening, lay on the floor at the end of your day and melt into the last 2 movements.
    Observe what develops in your awareness of the back side of your body. This is a great start for tuning back into how your body feels. To be able to feel when you are tightening up. To feel how certain patterns of thinking creates tension to these areas, to feel what happens when you remain in the same position for longer than 30-60 minutes. To recognise the relationship between what your eyes are doing and neck tension. If you spend a lot of time looking at a screen, this has a huge effect on your body. Can you feel it? If you can feel it, you can do something about it.