Neck & Waist: The Spaces In-between

the spaces inbetween
The Oscars have the Best Supporting Actor category, and with good reason. Where would the super-sparkly leads be without awesome wisdom-spouting side kicks? Two movies just popped into my head – When Harry Met Sally and High Fidelity. In them, the supporting actors – Bruno Kirby and Jack Black respectively – totally made those films for me. The stars don’t shine without support.

[PAUSE FOR MOVIE GEEKDOM: Here is one of my favorite Bruno Kirby scenes from When Harry Met Sally that makes me laugh every time. And do yourself a favor and go on a little YouTube binge of all the scenes with Jack Black in High Fidelity. But none can top the last one of the movie.]

Just like in the movies, some body parts steal the spotlight while others are doing a lot of heavy lifting without all the acclaim. Case in point: the neck and the waist. The three main body weights of the core understandably get a lot of attention. Each one – pelvis, chest and head – contains majorly important organs. The pelvis holds the reproductive and digestive systems, the cage of the chest protects the heart and lungs, and of course, the head holds our astonishing brain. The three body weights are the keepers of the crown jewels.

And in the spaces in-between, the waist and the neck play hugely important supporting roles.

The spine runs like a pearl thread down the trunk of your body to connect each of the bony body weights and their precious cargo. At the waist and neck, however, there is very little supporting bone. The body’s design of light on bone, heavy on muscle reveals that these spaces are designed to have lots of mobility. In our modern lives of driving and desk-sitting and the cultural message of don’t-wiggle-too-much-when-you-walk often leaves these areas stiff and more rigid than they were designed to be.

Your head weighs around 12 pounds — more than two big bags of flour. But we don’t feel that weight because it is balanced delicately on the intricate bones of your cervical spine. Now imagine that you, like most of us, tend to carry that 12 pounds a little out of alignment. Imagine how much strain that puts on the ribbons of muscle that support the structure of your neck. It’s such a constant for me that I often don’t notice that those little muscles are sore all. the. time.

Similarly to your neck, the lumbar spinal bones at your waist rely largely on the layers of overlapping muscles around your waist to create both movement and support for your hips and chest. Also similarly to the neck, the waist muscles can harbor chronic tender tension and soreness that we tend to ignore.

Tomorrow I will post a list of ten easy things you can do in your day to invite more movement and stretch in these important supporting places in your body. In the meantime, follow your curiosity about how you use your neck and waist, notice sensation in your spaces in-between and I’ll see you back here tomorrow!

COMMUNITY BONUS: post in the comments below or on the Focus Pocus Facebook page your favorite supporting actors and a favorite scene (so often, the supporting actors get the best lines!)!

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