Yesterday, we got new chickens.
This is Garth.
These are the Dixie Chicks.
This is a very cool video of a chicken demonstrating unencumbered neck motion.
This particular chicken is being held (against its will, I might mention) which makes it really fixate on taking in data. All of us (including chickens) are constantly taking in data from all over our body; a very important input to the body being what is coming in through the eyes. For survival's sake, it's extremely important to be able to keep your eyes on the prize (or the coyote)-- so the chicken needs to be able to hold her head still even if her body is moving around a lot, in order to get the most accurate data input. This is the same "dead reckoning" process used in sophisticated navigation equipment like what's used on airplanes.
All of that and she lays eggs too.
She doesn't only have to see, she has to move well while she sees. The “computer software” in the chicken’s brain is working extremely fast. Her muscles and tendons are sending the position of each joint to her brain, nanosecond by nanosecond, which means her brain is figuring out exactly how to adjust EVERY muscle and joint in the body so that her head doesn’t change position relative to the ground. So while it seems like the head is not moving, it's only not moving relative to the ground. All of her joints (and muscles) are rapidly changing to allow for the chicken to observe accurately and flee when appropriate.
The almost-instantaneous math and muscular response going on in the head of this little Bok Bok would blow your mind. Or, your computer's mind, actually.
And you thought chickens were stupid.
Here’s the rub: You should be able to do something similar. Not just with your head, but each of your parts should be able to move relative to the others without pulling inappropriately on the rest of the body. This is the indication of how well your body communicates with itself. Of course, our joint mobility sucks, so even if the brain sends a message to the muscles -- "Quick! Adjust your pelvis 7° to the right!" in order to cope with a tiny slope on a trail or a 1/4" crack on the sidewalk, all that our stiff hips and feet can do with the message is lunge our entire body to the right sixteen inches because we lack the mobility in the foot (and the knees, hips, and spine) to make a minuscule adjustment. Which moves your head (and eyes) all over the place. Which means your "dead reckoning" is always off and your body that is "moving forward" is also inappropriately being accelerated in tiny, unnecessary directions all of the time which your eyes miss seeing because they're continuously losing their point of reference from which to do the math.
In terms of acute survival, this isn't that big of a deal. It's OK if your head doesn't move that well on your neck, or your femurs don't move their full range of motion in your hip sockets. There is very rarely a Giant Farm-Girl in a Tie-Dye Shirt picking us up to play Michael Jackson Dance Video. Chronically, however, those unnecessary accelerations occurring with each step is what accelerates the degeneration process and interferes with tissue regeneration.
Get your chicken on:
Wa-ay before you figure out how to stabilize the head while moving the body, how about doing it the other way around? Keep the ribcage and shoulders still while moving the head and try:
1. A forward-back motion of the head (think pecking at the ground)
2. The ear-to-shoulder movement
3. Sliding your head to the right and left without tipping it. (And a real challenge: Keep your head slid back while you attempt the right-left motion!)
This is a great upper-cervical joint and head-neck-to-shoulder muscle opener. Plus you can do it right now at your desk and only look slightly insane.
See this professional diagram:
Husband: I need a mirror.
Me: Chickens don't need mirrors.
Husband: (Something I can't repeat.)