Small chins run in my family and around the time I morphed into a self-conscious teenager I noticed the beginnings of a double chin. I can remember working out that if l lifted my chin a little, I could mask it. Before too long this habit was joined by many years of desk work... where forward head (and it's associated chin lifting) becomes the norm all too easily.
Turns out that this was the cause of the chronic headaches I suffered for 15 years. When I started working with Restorative Exercise they gradually decreased and are now a very rare occurrence, which I can nearly always link to stress. Stress movement patterns very much encourage the forward head lifted chin, pelvic tucked position so that is not surprising. The good news is I can generally turn them off now with our exercises - some of my favourites are head ramp and calf stretch - catsuit too if you are very mindful of your boundaries.
Why does this happen? Well there are a number of reasons but the combination of the forward head and the chin lift creates an excess of pressure at the base of the skull. It also creates an overuse pattern of neck muscles and an underuse of other key muscles including your core. This can trigger that 'foggy brain' feeling, fatigue through poor circulation and headaches. It can also cause neck and jaw pain and contribute to back pain too.
In class the last few weeks we've added the idea of not lifting the ribs when we head ramp. If you do lift the ribs you put pressure on the spine and turn down the core, if you do keep the ribs down you lengthen the spine and, as I like to say in class......Wam.....there it is, reflexive core!
I'm working on a new video for our channel for this one, but in the meantime this is a great one from Petra that is only a minute long and applies to the car specifically (but everywhere else too really)!
And let's finish the term with some true stories (last week's were so popular. keep them coming! Let's inspire each other....):
- in Nic's class Ron gave us all a penny drop moment when he observed how much more natural it is to walk with feet straight ahead when you keep them pelvis distance apart. It's actually harder to duck foot it. Another great reason to stay in your tracks!
- A major lightbulb moment for one of our 'Movewell out in the world' champions who was doing a bit of external rotation of the thighs in the shower (as you do). She noticed that without anything being sucked in her tummy muscles naturally firmed. Another example of reflexive core in action!
- Another on the ball champion had two success stories to share: Rhomboid pushups at the kitchen bench waiting for the kettle to boil (or any other thing you are waiting for too). No gear required! and.....
- Waiting for your turn in a game of croquet practice your stance with some external thigh rotation - by the time you've played a whole game that's a lot of exercise that really starts to make a difference to how you move when you aren't thinking about it. Brilliant!
And one of my favourite moments in class this week was when Loretta pointed out that keeping our feet in our tracks doing top of the foot stretch completely changed how the movement feels. I had my own lightbulb moment - you were spot on Loret. One of the reasons we deviate from pelvis distance apart is it just feels 'normal' and so it's easier. Our tissues have adapted to narrow feet, but we know that is causing some major wear and tear so we want to correct that habit......when we do, we notice that the exercise is more challenging. You've uncovered the true tensions and can now create change. (But I like to remind you to go gently. Regular, mindful and boundary respecting practice is far more useful than sporadic and too intense efforts). Be like our champions and make it a part of your daily life.
For those of you disappointed about the long break between classes I've got a special offer for you - get together with 2 friends and I'll run private classes for you in Newtown. $30 each for a small class tailored to your crew. So long as you don't mind a Barthound sitting on the couch. Private sessions are also available. See you soon X