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How not to Hunch like your Parent and Grandparent

April, 2022

Hunching over or rounding the upper back is often regarded as a hereditary characteristic. I frequently hear people say, “my back is stooped just like my mother, and her mother had it too.”

Is a hunched back Nature or Nurture?
I agree that hunching is certainly a family trait—but it is largely a learned one, not inherited.
We mostly learn our posture from our parents and family members. As we grow up, the role models around us in wider society also hold sway. Unfortunately, in our culture, these are usually pretty poor examples to follow. Our relationship to healthy posture has steadily been eroded over the past one hundred years, as I explain in my book 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back. Read more

Outer Corsets and Inner Corsets

September, 2022
I have often written about the elegance of people in bygone years. The women, sometimes corseted, show striking deportment. The excesses of nineteenth-century fashion understandably gave corsets a bad name. Extreme tight lacing had some terrible effects, imposing some drastic anatomical remodeling: The stomach and liver are crammed down, with the ribs compressing into drooping S-loops. The neural spines of each vertebra, the little projections that stick up from the central body of each bone, are also pushed out of place. Normally they stack nicely one atop the other in a neat midline ridge, but in long-term corset wearers these spindles of bone jut to this side or that. Science writer Brian Switek in Skeleton Keys: The Secret Life of Bone. Read more

How Do I Fix My Neck Pain?

March, 2023

Do you suffer from neck tension, muscle knots, or tingling in your fingers? Do you get frequent headaches?

Or maybe your neck is fine most of the time, but seizes up periodically, leaving you unable to function normally in your job, family life, and recreational activities.

Most neck pain involves compression.
In modern cultures, the head often drifts forward as we slouch and crane our necks towards our computer screens. The weight of the head, (typically 11 lb. or 5 kg—think bowling ball), then requires the muscles at the back of the neck to contract strongly to keep the head up. This contraction compresses the relatively delicate tissues in the area. Not a recipe for a healthy, happy neck. If you have forward head carriage but are symptom-free so far, keep reading for tips that will prevent future problems with the discs, nerves, blood vessels, and bones in your neck. Read more