Is your phone crushing your neural highways?

Lets talk about the importance of spinal integrity because it can literally make or break you. If you imagine the brain as a big ball, and then connect a long tube to it, which would represent the spine and the spinal chord inside the tube, it is very important to keep the tube in a fairly straight line coming from the ball. Why is that?

If you pinch the tube, you will compromise the information flowing inside it, and over a longer period of time that pinching on the tube can cause irritation and inflammation. This is not something that you want happening close to your brain or anywhere along your spinal chord.

It would be like your nerve highway from the brain has been crushed into a tiny gravel road, but you are trying to get the same amount of traffic through anyway. There will be complications, accidents and traffic jams, and why would you choose that?

Nervous tissue (nerves) cannot stretch. It can only glide in the neural tubes, so we do not have as much playroom there like with muscle tissue. This is important to know because a relative small movement, which may not seem as much, like dropping your head down and staring at your phone, puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the nervous tissue.

Also when the tube is being pinched like that, a lot of signals never reach their destination, and in our  body this causes instability. That instability is not good, and the body tries to compensate with other muscle groups. These muscle groups are not supposed to do extra work in that area and so they will not be as sufficient or strong in the task, meaning that you will loose power. That instability will also increase your risk of injury, which is especially important in sports.

If you are doing a squat with a heavy load on your back, and you are pinching your spinal tube , usually by raising your head up high in the middle of the movement, you are compromising your spinal integrity, leaving performance on the table as you loose power and are setting yourself up for some potential serious injury right then or further down the road.

Do you think you are safe because you are not lifting any heavy weights? Well, the exact same neck position is seen on almost every desk-jockey in the office, and most likely you are one of them, so this is equally important for you too!

“Walk into any office building and you will likely see the majority of the workers sitting at their desks with their backs rounded forward, their shoulders caved in, and their heads hanging in front of their bodies…all of them looking as though they are suffering from advanced stages of osteoporosis, depression, and old age.” -Dr. Kelly Starrett [1]

Here is some more information from Dr. Kelly Starrett on Spinal Integrity

 

Last week we also talked about how sitting in a hunched over position like when you are staring at your phone actually will make you feel more sad. Now you can add future neck injury and loss of spinal integrity to that. In Sweden there is even a word for it, it’s called “paddnacke”[2] and can be translated to “Ipad neck” which has caused a lot of worrying in recent years as this issue is seen in younger and younger kids.

So, how should we stand properly without loosing integrity of our spine? In the book Deskbound [3] we are being taught how to stand up by first lying down, which is a really great exercise.

  1. That’s right, you want to lie down on the floor, face up, with the palms of your hands facing the ceiling, which aligns your spine and head in a neutral position.
  2. Now you want to tighten your glutes (butt muscles), which automatically rotates your pelvis (hips) into a neutral position.
  3. Thanks to gravity, your rib cage, shoulders and head will be well aligned as well.
  4. If you are unable to lie in this position or your shoulders and/or hands are not touching the floor, it is a strong indicator that you have very poor range of motion and your movement patterns have been compromised. If this is the case you need to start working on that immediately! Mobility 1-on-1 can help you with this.
Roger Frampton gives us a great TEDx talk about the spine and shows us easy adaptable advice on how to stand in the below video. I strongly suggest you watch the whole video, but if you are very short on time jump to the 11:00 mark for the “how to stand” advice.

 

What about standing and using your phone? This short video shows you what to do.

 

In this clip Dr. Kelly shows us a bit more about how to deal with the phone and computer in “Slow Death by Texting”.

Compromising your spinal integrity is very easily done in today’s sitting world with desk-jockeys, smartphones, and even having lost the knowledge of how to stand properly, and it comes at a very dire cost. Learn to see the signs right away and retrain your posture to take care of your spine so that the nerves can do their job without interference, keeping you strong and injury free.

Don’t smash your nerves onto gravel road, keep those highways open and running. 🙂

 


Resources

[1] Deskbound by Dr. Kelly Starrett, page 40

[2] Vi surfar oss till paddnacke

http://www.minnatunberger.se/ref/6c34f0c08e0b37190ed140e1d9c434db.pdf

[3] Deskbound by Dr. Kelly Starrett, page 64,65