What signature is your life leaving on your bones? We think of our bones as solid, and yet they are malleable, very much alive and constantly accommodating to stresses in our lives. And now that we’re spending 4 to 5 hours a day hunched over our devices, we’re growing spikes! I picture a future of humans with bony head extensions and hunched backs. That makes me think twice about my posture!
My favorite posture hacks
If turning into a chameleon is not your cup of tea, here are some hacks for better posture.
Take up tai chi. You’ll spend a lot of time extending your spine upwards.
Try yoga. Yoga has many postures that strengthen the neck and back and correct posture.
If nothing else, look up and side to side, and pull your shoulders back and down. You can even stand with your head and upper spine against a wall and tuck your chin in to lengthen your cervical spine.
Whatever you do, make it a habit and become aware of how much you slump.
Osteobiography, I learned from a recent article on the BBC website called How modern life is transforming the human skeleton, is the practice of looking at skeletons to find out how the owner lived. It makes sense that certain activities leave their mark. Walking on two legs gives us sturdier hip bones. I wonder what sitting on our buns 7 hours a day makes sturdier?
I don’t have the answer to that question. The article describes the findings of Australian health scientist David Shahar, who has been discovering an increasing incidence of patients with spikes growing on the lower back of the skull. The growths are officially called external occipital protuberances. They occur just above the neck and used to be exceedingly rare.
After analyzing thousands of skull X-rays of people from 18 to 86 years old, comparing spikes and posture, Sharar found spikes in one in four people aged 18 to 30.
A pain in the neck
The scientists hypothesize that the more we hunch over our devices, the more our heavy heads place extra pressure on the place where the neck muscles attach to the skull, and the body adds extra bone to cope.
A spike might seem badass, and potentially causes no harm in and of itself, but hunching over is not good for anyone.
When the head balances on the top of the spine, it weighs about 10 to 12 pounds, at a 30-degree angle it weighs 40 pounds, at a 60-degree angle, it weighs 60 pounds. This causes wear and tear on the spine and neck aches and pains, lengthening muscles, tendons, and ligaments structures.
You end up with a drooping chin, rounded shoulders, loss of lung capacity, nerve damage, belly aches, and more.
Is that for you? You choose.
Why posture matters
Other than biomechanical comfort, reduced pain, increased blood circulation, and better digestion, good posture: