posture

Experts of Dismissal: Dismissing the Experts

How Seeing the Big Picture Helps the Global Population   

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My mom went to the doctor the other day to explain that she was experiencing daily back pain.  She is not the type of woman who sees doctors often, and it takes a good amount of sensation to motivate her to schedule an appointment with a professional. You know what he told her?  After casually looking her over, he stated ‘you’re fine, just take some aspirin’.  

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Sometimes I forget how dismissive the ‘experts’ can be.  I’ve been teaching various effective modalities, albeit cutting edge and dare I say controversial, for so long, that I consider it common knowledge.  Reiki is being taught in colleges to nurses and doctors.  Acupuncture is accepted under health insurance. Posture has become an assessable and addressable concern in the fitness industry.  So how is it that this expert sent my mom home with no answers?

One of the factors is HUBRIS.  (I'll wait a moment so you can look that up, I had to get a dictionary too.).  We get so cozy with our beliefs, and routines that we seldom allow them to be challenged by contrasting observations.  The new thoughts are deemed unsafe on a psychological and neurological level.  Often we react harshly towards new concepts because they do not match our notion/belief of the way things are.  We become irrationally dismissive, and cast the concept aside.  We glaze over it, and press on with our comfortable beliefs and pride intact.  This reaction disallows new information to be understood and is coupled with accelerated forgetting, even if the new observation rationally contradicts our belief.  The term for this series of events is called

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

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and it is VERY unscientific.  But what we find nearly across the board, is scientists, doctors, professors and a slew of experts doing this on a daily basis.  This is not healthy skepticism (whatever that means).  This is straight up DENIAL. And this type of thinking does NOT belong in healthcare, science, or really anywhere.  

Since most of us suffer from cognitive dissonance on a multitude of subjects, you've most likely experienced it.  This pattern usually begins when we are small.  We are told how things are and discouraged from questioning it.  School systems further this pattern by teaching one school of thinking, and then test a student’s ability to regurgitate it.  Thats not genuine learning, we are simply copying and adhering to the same concepts and beliefs our teachers have.  That is not progress, and it is the reason why conventional SCIENCE is so FRIGGING SLOW to keep up with the trends.  They are ‘surprised’ at every turn, and say 'we have to go back to the drawing board' (which they never do.)

Thats right folks, SCIENCE is not advancing. Technology is. 

Wallace Thornhill plasma physicist EU2015 Explaining the holes in the current model of gravity

Wallace Thornhill plasma physicist EU2015 Explaining the holes in the current model of gravity

They are very different.  We are still working off of science that began and ended in the 19th century.  Everything ‘new’ in science has been little more than hypothesis full of holes that are dismissed and glazed over as we ‘push ahead’ holding the same stagnant view points. (more on that in another post) 

On the contrary. . . . ASK WHY! Not enough of us ask WHY! We concede to the experts and dismiss ourselves as having access to the solution.

On the contrary. . . . ASK WHY! Not enough of us ask WHY! We concede to the experts and dismiss ourselves as having access to the solution.

The doctor my mom saw was not trained in psychology, he was not trained in mechanics, he was not trained in geology, this doctor specialized in drugs.  He is so specialized in fact that he missed the bigger picture which a child could see.  My mom is completely off balance!  He followed his everyday routine, and his (belief) systems gave him the green light to push ahead.  ‘Nothing amiss here, move along'.

Any investigation into her experience would have yielded important information that could result in a logical conclusion, and a pathway to solution.  My mom had experienced physical trauma to her shoulder last year requiring surgery and over 6 weeks in a sling.  Those 6 weeks impeded her ability to move properly.  It forced her nervous system to re-route patterns around the immobile joint while it healed.  This contributed to her gait being thrown off.  (The body works a unit).  Her nervous system created a new pattern of movement.  It adapted, and without restoring motion properly (which includes THE WHOLE BODY not just the area of the shoulder) her back is now signaling her that something is wrong.  Her shoulder is STILL in an impaired state.  Her hips and legs are receiving the 'impaired' signals from the shoulder.  Her back is stuck between a rock and a hard place, compensating for it all.

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This would be comparable to getting into a crash with your car, limping it to the mechanic to figure out why its not going as fast as it was before, and him looking at the engine for the problem.  Meanwhile your wheels are pointed in 4 different directions, one of them isn’t even spinning, and your frame is bent.  What do you do?  Put a new turbo on it?  Or realign the frame?

With technology allowing us to see deeper and deeper, we are losing the global perspective, and its costing us. Specializing in one area of study is also costing us.  To be a real expert is to be humble enough to ALWAYS BE THE STUDENT.  Explore other subjects and perspectives. Integrate knowledge from a broad base of experience.  Understand that there are things YOU DON’T KNOW, YOU DON’T KNOW.  

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In the end, I know I am part of this integrative solution.  More and more questions are being asked that stagnant thinking just can not keep up with.  It is not large groups of people that are inspired with fantastic new ideas and gadgets, it is the rebellious thinker.  The forward feeler who moves in the direction of the leading edge.  These are the leaders, these are the experts.  Paving the way from sluggish beliefs, towards ever-evolving understanding.  They’re often young, and ambitious, passionate and energetic.  Engaging and enigmatic.  Philosophical and alert.  Observant and curious.  Flexible and steadfast.  

Perhaps the doctor once thought and felt like this at one time, perhaps not.  I don't live in his shoes, so I can't know. But my point is this: If an expert dismisses something without fair scrutiny, DISMISS THEM and move on.  No one is a real authority/expert because the final authority is YOU. Be wise enough to be the BEST expert you can be.  Research, Test, Observe, Verify, Experiment, Stay Open to New Concepts, Quantify ALL Results, Trust Your Instincts. 

Are you ready to trust your instincts?  Prepared to put yourself back in the drivers seat?   I'm no expert, but I play one on youtube. . . . . 

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Text Neck: Keep It Up, By Working Down

Loaded title, I know.  I did that on purpose.  Read on to find out why.

The internet was alight with a new BUZZ word a year or so ago.  A pigeon-hole description of an avoidable postural misalignment 'caused' by looking at handheld electronic devices.  (Notice I place 'caused' in quotes).  The term is:

TEXT NECK

This was such a perfect example of what more and more teens are displaying posturally, but I'm NOT jumping on the 'shame on you' bandwagon like other people.  As an alignment therapist, I do NOT believe this condition is caused solely because of texting.  We are giving texting a bad rap, just like sitting.  Let me explain why.

The Human Body Is Designed to Text

This kid has been texting so long, his body adapted to this position.  And Rightly So!  Any repetitive motion will be memorized in the body.  Its designed to do that

This kid has been texting so long, his body adapted to this position.  And Rightly So!  Any repetitive motion will be memorized in the body.  Its designed to do that

Just like the human body is designed to sit.  The body is designed to back bend, swim, run, twist, sleep, bicycle, throw, and sit some more.  It is repetitive motion ANY MOTION or REPETITIVE POSITION that gets memorized in the body.   Its called adaptation.  It happens because your body is a lazy piece of shit.  It is trying to expend as little energy as possible, as per its efficient design.

 Its not the texting that caused this, instead he is NOT giving his body balanced stimulation in other forms to interrupt the pattern displayed in the photo.  You see not everyone who texts, ends up in this position.  So it can't be the texting that is causing it.  Instead lets understand

THE BODY WE BRING TO THE TEXTING

There is much more going on here than a neck in deep flexion.  The hips are dictating flexion through the spine, to the shoulders, and finally at the head.  Its not just the head's fault, so we can't chase a symptom of a deeper problem.  When this kid stands up, his shoulders stay just like you see in the photo, because his pelvis is tucked under and bailing forward of his knees.  Not a big deal, because we are designed to do that too.  But if he is experiencing pain, lethargy, foggy thinking, depression etc, his position is becoming a limiting factor in his life experience.  

When his mother makes an appointment for him, smart woman that I suspect she is, I'm not going to go after his phone addiction.  He can either keep this pattern going, by continuing to work facing down in his lap, or he can facilitate a new head position (ie. keep his head up) by working down in his hips to strengthen the underlying structures that hold his spine, shoulders and head in alignment.  (Does the title wording make sense now?)

Here is what I'd give him on the fly, since I never actually talked to him or his mom ;-)

Picture 1: You can text all you want while you do this, and support a more aligned head over time (photo by Egoscue)

Picture 1: You can text all you want while you do this, and support a more aligned head over time (photo by Egoscue)

Picture 2: Real easy to hold a phone here while you do this.  Or put the car on cruise control and do this. (photo by Egoscue)

Picture 2: Real easy to hold a phone here while you do this.  Or put the car on cruise control and do this. (photo by Egoscue)

1. Put something between your knees. A fat pillow, your own fist, or even a water bottle (filled with water and cap off, so the joke can be on you, literally). 

2. Get your feet and knees in line with your hips. 

3. Get your feet under your knees.  I'm talking 90 degree angles here, as you see pictured.

4. Roll an arch into your low back from the hips, and relax your shoulders.  Remember I told you its about working down?  We are getting ourselves more HIP DRIVEN here.  Wake up the foundation to support the rest of the structure. 

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5. Now that you're sitting more like picture 2 , do your best impression of THIGH MASTER.  But since you're a teen, you have no friggin' clue who Suzanne Somers is, so just squeeze your knees together on your object of choice, over and over.  Even if you have nothing, put your ankles and knees together, it still works!

Its enough of an interruption that will over time strengthen your base.  Then the top area (head) which people keep complaining about, SELF CORRECTS. 

Thank you grandma, for telling me to put my phone away and keep my shoulders back while I sit.  You’ve got the right idea, but this is a new millennium. 

I’m gonna stick with Kim at SHIFTALIGN who supports what I love to do, and helps me do it BETTER with easy moves that result in sustainable change that won’t cramp my style.
— The Teen in the Photo

What I Saw In Palau: Shocking Feet

In 2004 I had a wonderful opportunity to travel for the first time out of the country. I was a licensed boat captain and was offered a 6-7 week job working on the set of Survivor.  Needless to say what I experienced there imprinted me for life.  At the time, I felt the happiest I had ever been.  

Boat Captain in Palau 2004

Boat Captain in Palau 2004

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A terabyte was not yet a ‘thing’, and film cameras were still around so my 3.0 Megapixel point-and-click was pretty good.  I took over 3,000 photographs capturing everything my lens could focus on.  With a sharp eye for photography (its in the family) and also for things unusual, my quick trigger finger secured stills in digital limbo until I returned home.

One subject that stood out to me was a local crewman.  More specifically it was his feet.  Back then, I said to myself ‘Ew!’, wondering why they looked so different.  I thought my feet were fairly functional, and athletic (a doctor once told me).  I assumed there was something amiss based on the discrepancy I observed. They were so strange to my eye, that I took a photo while he was on the boat.  

One subject that stood out to me was a local crewman. More specifically it was his feet.

One subject that stood out to me was a local crewman. More specifically it was his feet.

10+ years later, I’m teaching workshops and leading seminars on function, alignment and posture and guess what. . .   I’m pointing out how dysfunctional my feet and indeed all feet are whose toes are NOT aligned like what you see.   

Its more than a culture clash, although that is what triggered me to take the shot at first.  Was it my european genetic background vs his pacific ancestry?  Nope.  It was, and IS a musculoskeletal response to environmental stimulus.  

In short,  Americans have our feet crammed into shoes as soon as we have feet to put them into.   

ENTER: DEVELOPMENTAL IMPEDENCE

Think of it like growing a seedling inside a snug box.  You ultimately affect the form and structure  by manipulating its environment.  It crowds the box.  It can’t develop like a plant outside in the garden due to the contrasting stimulus, or lack thereof.   (more on childhood development in another post)

Look at this little girl’s posture. She wasn’t encouraged to crawl long enough, and will pay for it the rest of her life because her parents didn’t know better.

Look at this little girl’s posture. She wasn’t encouraged to crawl long enough, and will pay for it the rest of her life because her parents didn’t know better.

Similar to the bones in our hands, the bones of the feet spread outward to form what we know as the widest part of the foot, the ‘ball’.  But its not designed to stop there, actually the toes should be the WIDEST part of the foot.  You can see in these photos what can happen over time with narrow shoe boxes that crowd the foot.  This is a stark contrast in comparison and one that can create symptoms felt up the musculoskeletal chain to the top of the head. 

The toes should be the widest part of the foot.

The toes should be the widest part of the foot.

Although footwear inhibits full function, it is NOT a death sentence. The body will jump at the chance to realign itself the moment you provide stimulus.

Although footwear inhibits full function, it is NOT a death sentence. The body will jump at the chance to realign itself the moment you provide stimulus.

Bones were forced to create the form of the shoe. Muscles can move bones to a more functional position

Bones were forced to create the form of the shoe. Muscles can move bones to a more functional position

 

Try walking at home in regular shoes.  Focus on how you feel, head to toe.  Now try with no shoes.  Notice the difference?  Does your strike sound louder? Feel the change in your shoulders or head?  Now try another type of shoe, maybe a flip flop or a heel.  The change occurs through the entire body.

Try something else.  Lift your toes up and walk on your heels.  Now walk on the balls of your feet.  Try walking on the outside edges of the feet.  Now the inside edges.  Its extreme I know, but my point is, if you change one part you affect the entirety.

Stimulus most definitely impacts the form our body takes over time.  Though it is crucial to develop fully especially as children, we can still bring fuller function to our bodies and lives. All it takes is a little varied stimulus, a bit of interruption, and the body jumps at the chance to align itself and restore its own function, no matter what shoe you're wearing.  If this is an area that you feel you can improve on, why not sign up for one of my classes or a private session?  All you have to lose is your shoes, for a little while :-)

TOH Pool Safety and Health

Its summer for the northern hemisphere.  Levittown residents know this means the pools are open!  You've got your towel, flip flops, goggles, water bottle, but forgot your sunscreen.  DON'T WORRY!  Town Of Hempstead Health Department cares about keeping you well.  Something new at the pool is FREE SUNSCREEN! 

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Something not new is BAD POSTURE.  Take a look at the background action.  What do you see?

You might not notice at first glance, but these people are off balance.  They're leaning so far in one direction that their body has to compensate in various places just to hold them upright.  Do you know what that means for their health (and yours) down the line?

Look again.  What do you see?  They're all standing with their hands on their hips.  Familiar?  Have you found yourself standing for a period of time and either crossed your arms over your chest or propped yourself up on your hips?  If you're like most people, you've done it without even thinking of it.  Your body does it on its own, its called compensation.

The postures in this photo are of people displaying rounded upper back and shoulders, and excessive lower back curvature, to name just a few deviations.  Even the lifeguard falls into this category, and he is living an active lifestyle. 

So whats the big deal?  Plenty of people look like this.  Its normal right?  Well it most certainly is typical of what we all see these days but so is this:

Lower Back Pain is the #1 Cause of Disability WORLDWIDE

Does that sound typical?  How about normal?  How about something is wrong here, and we are missing a huge component to our overall health!

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Just like the postures above, this building is off balance.  Its falling down.  But it doesn't have any cool compensatory responses to keep itself upright on its own.  Instead it is getting propped up to stop the decline, at least for a little while.  Notice anything familiar?

This is exactly what the people in the top photo are doing for themselves.  Their muscles aren't working to keep them in accordance with their original design.  Some are 'asleep' while others are OVER WORKING, and the body is falling down.  It supplies the props just like the steel supports on the building, but it uses your arms instead.  

But we are different than the building.  We can adapt, heal, twist, run, jump, crawl, climb, push, pull you name it.  You see most of us lack QUALITY motion in our daily lives.  You are probably saying, 'I workout every day'.  But so is the lifeguard, and so is the other family beyond the frame of the photo. 

Michael Phelps a tremendous athlete, displaying musculoskeletal compensations.  

Michael Phelps a tremendous athlete, displaying musculoskeletal compensations.  

Most of the motion we give ourselves is repetitive motion that gets patterned into our body and stays.  Even the workouts we get at the gym are focused more on encouraging EFFORT rather than QUALITY.  Burn CALORIES, rather than have FUN (more on that in another post).  Do what the instructor says, rather than explore all motion.  We rarely take our bodies through full capable range of motion, much less strengthening it there.  So it holds tight to the pattern it considers 'safe' and forgets the rest.

Gyms focus mostly on effort to burn calories, not quality movement that creates sustained health.

Gyms focus mostly on effort to burn calories, not quality movement that creates sustained health.

If you WON'T move, you CAN'T move over time, and we head past compensation into dysfunction.  Sounds scary right?  Its not.  

Its just another adaptation that our body has in its bag of tricks to keep us as well as it can.

Thats right, compensations, dysfunctions, and adaptations are all in the plan. 

Because if we couldn't adapt, we would be like that building, hopelessly stuck waiting for someone from Monster Garage to weld upright stilts onto our falling torso.  The building needs to return to its blueprint design.  It won't last long with those beams holding it up, and it certainly won't perform like it did before, ie. holding hundreds of people inside safely.  

Your body needs to return to its design too.  And it can do it more easily than you think (more on that in another post).  If it does not, no amount of sunscreen will help get you to the pool when your back is out!

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