ABCs

Active. As in, vs. Passive. The thing that screws up your body the most is the insane quantity of time we spend with almost no electricity flowing through our muscles. Passive tissues are doing nothing for your structural integrity or your metabolism. E.g. Sitting in a chair=passive. Holding yourself in a chair position sans chair=Active. Baby sitting in a sling=Passive. Baby participating in its transportation by holding itself up and holding on=Active. Active tissue is required for health, and large volumes of passive time cannot be made up with an hour or two of active time.

Basics. Way before you need to worry about the deeper levels of tissues, how about checking the big axes of the body? Are your feet pointing straight like the wheels of a car? Do you spend 6-10 hours with your knees in flexion (bent, like while sitting in a chair?) Fix those right away.

Calf muscles. The backs of your lower legs are tight. Very tight. More tight than you realize, and doing considerable damage to your ability to stabilize the rest of your body. And, P.S. The calf stretch you are probably doing (think runner’s calf stretch) has nothing to do with the way the foot and lower leg function while being upright and walking. Try the first exercise in this blog, and to make it more challenging, DOUBLE your yoga mat or towel thickness: click here.

Did you know I started writing this at 4AM this morning?

Ears should be over the shoulders, but not by tipping your head back. Try sliding your chin back like making a double. Chin, not latte. Sliding your head back also stretches the back of your neck bones and muscles out to the appropriate length. If you do a lot of computer work or driving, chin jutting is a common “passive” neck-tensing habit. Drop your chin to your chest every 20-30 minutes for about a minute, to lengthen the soft tissues and then adjust head posture after stretching. Note: This will NOT improve your health if you do it while you are driving. Duh.

Four. As in, A.M.

Glasses are difficult to find at 4AM, especially when you can’t see. Anyone know what I’m talking about?

Humerus=name of your upper arm bone. Everything that stabilizes the shoulder girdle, changes the pressure gradient for your cardiovascular functions, and provides the integrity of the connection between your upper, core, and lower body require the humerus to be swinging in full range of motion while walking (miles a day). And you probably just hang your purse on it.

Ischial tuberosities are the name of the bones you should be sitting on. Please stop calling them SITZ bones.  The less we think of ourselves as 5-years old with hoo hoos and dinkles and SITZ bones, the more serious we will be taken when it comes to health care, don’t you think?

Just enough time. Whether you are 8 months or 89 years old, you have just enough time to make a serious reversal of cellular death of various tissues by changing the flow of electricity, blood, and lymph. Anyone can do it at any age.

Katy is my name, biomechanics is my game. No, KATY is not a nickname, it is what is printed on my birth certificate, named for my great grandmother, Kathe. Only she had two little dots over the “A”. I wish my parents had given me two dots two. How would I type those, I wonder?

Ligaments connect bone to bone. Tendons connect muscle to bone. If you injure an ligament it is called a SPRAIN. If you injure a tendon, it is called a STRAIN. These words are commonly misused (and often by people who should know better) to mean the degree of injury. For example:  It’s just a strain, I think I can walk it off. Or, I’m pretty sure I sprained it, so I’m going to need the day off of work and a banana milkshake. Wrong. The term simply implies what type of tissue was damaged. Note: It is never wrong to have a banana milkshake.

Metabolism is another poorly understood word. Actually quite complex, your metabolism is the sum total of every chemical action it takes just to be you. When we talk about our metabolism, however, we are usually thinking about our basal metabolic rate (BMR), or, the average amount of calories we expend just being ourselves. There is great variance in the metabolism across the board. What most people don’t realize is, your metabolism is mostly affected by what your muscles are doing at rest (and has much less to do with how much you exercise). It is your muscle’s resting metabolism that makes up the greatest portion of your BMR. So, how do you increase your muscle’s resting metabolism? Actively lengthen of your muscles! Hypertonic muscles (hyper–too much, tonicity–tension) are not as metabolically active as long, full-force generating muscles. This recommendation goes beyond stretching. It also means learn to use your muscles in their full ranges of motion — not just the same short, linear motions over and over and over again.

Newton (as in Isaac) contributed greatly to the anatomical knowledge of the time by applying mechanical principles to understand bodily functions like fluid dynamics, pressure, etc. I’m a huge fan.

OMG, it is early.

Pee. When you laugh or jump or sneeze, while perhaps NORMAL to our current population, wetting thyself is not a NATURAL state of things. It’s a sign of what’s to come…like, organs moving out of your body. Take the hint seriously and fix it.

Quadratus lumborum. Get to know it. Here’s a picture: click. If you are a rib thruster (are you a rib thruster? Find out here: click) then this bad boy gets *passively* tense (there’s that passive again!) and increases lumbar disk compression, pelvic mal-alignment, and weakens the core musculature. Stretching it will help but the long-term antidote is allowing the rib cage to stay where it goes. No more lifting your ribs to flatten your stomach!

Rotator Cuff muscles are the infraspinatus, supraspinatus, teres minor, and the subscapularis. But, you don’t use them because most of your time is spent with your arms internally rotated (passively) using the keyboard, or driving, etc.  Stiff and underused, we like to use the muscles between the shoulder and ears instead of those about the cuff. Check out this exercise test (click) to see how your rotors measure up!

Shank is what we often call the lower leg in biomechanics. Did you know that your shank can rotate relative to your thigh bone? I think that’s my next blog w/video, cuz if your lower leg doesn’t rotate (and most don’t any more) then the knee and ankle joint as well as the nerves to the feet are all compromised. I’ll put this topic on the to-do list.

Thermography. Look into it, and if you like to invest in stuff, I’d bet that thermography becomes “the predictor” (i.e. early detection) of the future. It’s a ways off in terms of developing cohesive variables to evaluate, but the raw material is pretty good.

U. Yeah, U, reading this blog right now. You’re awesome…I just wanted U to know. XOXO

Varicose veins are created when the amount of downward force is greater than upward force in the blood vessels, breaking the valves within vein itself. In the optimal situation, the muscles around each vein should be contracting and relaxing rhythmically to get the blood back up to the heart and lungs. When muscles are passive (passive, passive, passive…how many times will I type this word this morning?) the vein has to carry the blood by “stair stepping” it up the body, against gravity, using little valve flaps. If you use the flaps (teeny tiny moving parts) instead of your muscles (giant, force generating parts) these little parts give out and break, allowing the blood to bulge and mis-shape the vein from the inside. Relief from the discomfort is commonly found by elevating the legs to help the blood to flow without having to climb.  But *fixing* the problem requires the real issue (your muscles are freaky-deaky tight, people!) be addressed. Most commonly found in the lower leg (see letter “C” for calves), bulging veins come high pressures caused by the muscle tension, whether the muscle tension comes from standing long hours, being pregnant, etc. The solution is always the same — get the muscles long and flowing with electricity, take the burden of the broken valves, get the blood back up and out of the bulging vein.

Water. It’s good for you. Fun fact: Water has a lower viscosity (fluid thickness and resistance to flow) than, say, honey does. Did you know we want our blood to be more like water and less like honey? Why? Because as the viscosity of blood goes up, the ability for blood to circulate goes down. Being dehydrated is one way to reduce your blood plasma/blood cell ratio, giving a thicker blood stream. Also, high blood sugar makes your blood stickier (less like blood and more like a melted popsicle) and increases the viscosity as well. Just thought you’d like to know these things.

X. Yeah, I got nothing.

Yay! I’m almost done! If only I weren’t so sleeeeeeppppy…..

Z. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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7 thoughts on “ABCs

  1. I’ll vouce for “A”. I put my baby in a sling starting at a week or two old, and I didn’t really coddle her and be super careful with her. I let her hold herself up, even at 2 months old. She was sitting unassisted by the time she was 3 months old!! Her motor skills are crazy developed, because we allowed her to use her body the way it was intended to be used. She has literally never been in a stroller or carried in a carseat. 🙂

    1. Jillian, what an awesome comment — thank you! That’s what I am planning to do as well. And I think people may be freaking out at the thought of someone NOT having a stroller… 🙂

  2. ;D fun post! My sling nurtured babies all had superior core and head strength early on as well.

    [quote]I wish my parents had given me two dots two. How would I type those, I wonder?[/quote] not a problem, surf on over to http://www.theworldofstuff.com/characters/ and search for “umlaut”

    Again, thank you for the entertaining read!

  3. Katy, thank you so much for the information you post in this blog. I have found your archives so interesting and have been sharing this with many family & friends.

    So I have two related questions – first, I have heard that a treadmill is not a good substitute for walking outside. Would you agree with this? I live in a place with rough winters both from a cold perspective and from the amount of snow making the sidewalks impassible. What would you recommend in that case?

    Also, about strollers, does it ruin our alignment if we’re doing our walking with a stroller? Ever since reading your post about having children walk I’ve been a lot better about asking my 3-yo if she wants to walk, but sometimes she just wants to rest (to say nothing of the downright scary rotaries we have to walk across!).

    1. @Meredith — Thanks for your post.

      1. I do not recommend using a treadmill as the belt reverses the natural human locomotion pattern (pushing back to go forward) and can exacerbate tension in the psoas and quads (which really interfere with the natural pelvic position and therefore PF strength, pelvic organ function == and so on and so on…) If you don’t want to bear the weather you can A) move to a tropical climate or B) walk indoors, at a mall, for example. I am also a fan of cross country skiing, so IF you can’t seem to get out a the gym, then finding something like a nordic track at least will encourage the push back motion until the weather allows for you to be outside again.

      2. Walking with a stroller, yes, affects your alignment (there is a reflex-driven arm swing that is required for humans to maintain their correct shoulder girdle functions including breathing and circulation) which is very limited with the arms doing something else (like constantly reaching out in front of you).

      Kudos for getting your 3-year old walking more. It’s usually just takes an offer and a little patience. Of course, we all get tired (even I get tired sometimes!!!) so just do the best you can and try to keep your body upright and focused on your own gait pattern while the little one rests. Then, make her get out and push you…

      -Katy

  4. E – “Note: This will NOT improve your health if you do it while you are driving. Duh”

    can you link to the study on this, please?

    H – what do you recommend besides using a purse? (i hope it’s not a fanny pack)

    Q – i can’t seem to bring my ribs down without tightening my stomach muscles. am i doing something wrong?

    S – you said most shanks don’t rotate anymore. mine does!!! i can’t believe something works!!!

    U – are awesome too! XO

    Z – goodnight!

  5. Dear Katy!

    I’m very addicted to the insight you bring!
    And I can’t get some of the links in this post to work. For example “Rotator cuff” and “Quadratus lumborum” – are you a rib thruster find out here. I’m directed to the frontpage of your website.

    Best regards
    Rikke

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