One of the most exciting things we (the Dynamic 4) have encountered over time learning and practicing Katy’s program, is that positive change can and does continue to occur even at a time in life when we thought change was a negative. In fact, it has been so positive in our lives, we decided to write about it and share our experiences (see our book Dynamic Aging: Simple Exercises for Whole-Body Mobility written by Katy Bowman with us Dynamic 4). This blog is a continuation of sharing how positive change is making a HUGE difference in our daily lives.
In October 2017 I went in to see my chiropractor, Delia Gorey, in Ventura. Delia has been with Katy’s program since way before my time and she was a certified RES (Restorative Exercise Specialist™). I have been seeing her (as the need arises) since December 2012 mostly for neck problems relating to three cervical vertebrae that have fused together. “They had to,” says Delia, “to deal with mechanical causes created by loading issues generated by years of race walking, weight lifting, non-optimal breathing mechanics, forward head posture, etc.” Notice she doesn’t mention “old age” as a factor – rather, bad habits and, of course, I didn’t know any better.
Delia does not believe in dragging out treatments over long periods of time. She encourages us to take personal responsibility by doing Katy’s practices to help ourselves. The exercise she recommended in 2012 for my neck was to head ramp 400 times each day! WOW! 400 times each day!
Well, I always enjoy a challenge so I bought a push button counter that I could wear (while at home) and began pushing the button each time I remembered to ramp. I don’t think I ever did 400 in a day; however, I learned a valuable lesson. If your intention is to do something 400 times a day, it becomes part of your daily awareness thereby becoming a habit and eventually you no longer need to count. Clever Delia! Sometimes though, even with head ramping as an integral part of my day, there are occasions when I need to see Delia and have her do her hands-on magic.
The visit in October was AWESOME because I got some GREAT news! Formerly “mushy” muscles in my neck (levator scapulae) were now strong and well-defined! What? Getting better as I get older? How can that be?
First, to appreciate it, you need to know about Ramping Your Head – a simple and effective Katy-exercise-practice. When we read, drive, and spend time with our techie stuff; e.g., computers, iPads, cellphones, video games, etc., it is not uncommon to see what Katy terms the “tech/text neck.” Here are two examples:
In the one to the right, my head and chin are sticking way out in front of the rest of my body (e.g., driving, watching TV, working on my computer even at my standing work station).
In the one to the left, my head is not only forward but hanging down (e.g., using my cellphone, iPad, playing video games). This is not optimal for my health (neck and other parts) or yours.
Katy says to correct this, “slide your chin back while lengthening the back of your neck. This not only changes the placement of your head, it gets you using the muscles that are there to support your head.” (Dynamic Aging: Simple Exercises for Whole-Body Mobility, 2017, p. 119.)
The photo below to the right shows where I am today with my head ramping – working on getting my ears over my shoulders. And the one to the left shows how I can ramp and use my phone or a handheld device.
Here’s how Delia explained it to me: “When the scapulae (shoulder blades) are in their anatomically neutral, or “down” position, the levator scapulae musculature can generate the force, the pull, needed to keep the neck ‘ramped’ into its optimal relationship with the thoracic spine. This force can be generated when the head is back over the body. It cannot be generated when the head and neck are thrust forward in front of the rest of the body. That is why your levator scapulae muscle felt so ‘mushy’ when we first started working together. It couldn’t work until you reminded yourself hundreds of times a day to pull your head back. Once it was back, the muscles strengthened in response to feeling the whole weight of your head. Voila !”
To see the whole-body difference this has made, refer back to the blog More About Joan dated October 4, 2017 (https://dynamicaging4life.com/more-about-joan/) and check out my silhouette at age 71 versus my photo at age 79+. Now that is whole-body improvement as chronologically the years continue to roll by! YIPPEE – I’m liking this trend!
Delia says: “Remember, that as long as you breathe air in and out, your cell biology is mutable [capable of change], and responsive to changes in load.”
Here is a great anatomical drawing showing the levator scapulae. For more technical information check out https://www.shoulderdoc.co.uk/article/1403:
Drawing reprinted with permission.