And now, a guest post from Australian OS Instructor, Piers Kwan. Read carefully. He talks funny….
I was recently driving to work when a car popped out from a side street and gave the side of my car a nudge (picture below — total loss). My car had many exciting features, including a reversing camera and a camera that showed the lane to my left any time I indicated that way. It was a lot of fun.
The biggest positive to come out of the crash was the significant number of clients who generously offered to loan me cars — I have three keys in the image below! I felt very cared for by our gym community. When I was using these loan cars, none of which had cameras, I began to notice how much more I was having to use my body in order to look around and be aware of what was going on around me.
Technology is wonderful. It lets us do more things with less work and in a shorter time frame. It lets us share knowledge and collect information, which is resulting in the exponential growth of human understanding. Technology is capable of doing many things that used to be time intensive and laborious. It even lets us drive safely without having to really turn our heads.
This is a double-edged sword. Technology does great things, but it also makes us lazy. Almost all of us are prone to taking the path of least resistance because humans love efficiency. It’s why when we look at something it makes our head respond and then our body follow. So what happens when we sit in a car and only look in a very narrow set of directions, after hunching in front of our smart phone or computer monitor all day, before going home and sinking into our couch to watch TV?
Simply put, our body adapts. It becomes good at the things we do a lot, and puts the things we hardly ever do on the back burner. It prioritises the things we use, and de-prioritises those that we don’t. This adaptability is clever and great, unless our lifestyle puts us into positions that promote stress, weakness and poor or limited movement.
A point that Tim made during his first Australian course really landed home while I was driving around in the loan cars. He was shocked at all the driving aids, including the cameras and the proximity sensors. The cameras were a trap that likely, without deliberate attention, would greatly diminish our head control.
Head control is important for a lot of things: it has a huge impact upon our posture, including our head carriage, how our scapula behave, the level of stress our neck carries, the efficiency with which our brain communicates with our muscles, the function of our vestibular system, the strength of our mid-section (or core), our hamstring flexibility (this one is crazy but this link summarises it nicely https://www.sportskeeda.com/health-and-fitness/weak-neck-muscles-result-tight-hamstrings), and our ability to shoulder check if something happens to our car .
I was really, really lucky in my accident because I do have a strong and mobile neck that was able to deal with the significant impact without suffering any notable negative outcomes. My neck was a little stiff for a day or two, and I greatly appreciated the mad skills of Martin Mackenzie the Tui Na legend from our gym community, but ultimately, I’ve been able to go about my business, continue with my hobbies, and enjoy life sans Honda Civic.
The final part of this article will give you an idea of some of the movements that have helped bring me to this place of strong neck and effective head control.
The following sequence is a series of movements that will gently take our head through its range of motion and start to apply some gentle load to our neck. It feels great, doesn’t take long and will make your body start to feel fantastic.
- Lying on your belly with your elbows pressed firmly into the floor, look up and down (leading with your eyes) x 3
- Neck roll onto your back
- Chin tuck (looking at your chest) x 3
- Scary Baby Roll (or awesome baby roll as I like to call it) back on to your forearms
- Then repeat in the other direction.
- Perform for 3–5 minutes.
When our head moves well and moves often, it does amazing things for our body to help us fight some of the negative impacts of aging and to continue to have a long, vibrant and enjoyable life.
Here’s an @original_strength reset for you to try before/during/after your next training session! 👉🏾 Nodding: Maintain a tall spine, lead with your eyes and only use a comfortable range of motion for yourself. 👉🏾 Neck rolls: Start the movement by looking behind yourself and leading with your head, let your body naturally follow. 👉🏾 Scary baby rolls👶🏽: Lead with your eyes. Head follows the body. Take almost all the weight on your shoulder as you reach with your hand for whatever you’re looking at. 👉🏾 Repeat on the other side!
Try the sequence above and let me know how it goes.
Piers is an experienced coach, and OS Instructor, who is sought after for workshops both locally and internationally. He has worked with athletes of all levels and has extensive experience in presenting information both individually and to large groups. Piers is a StrongFirst SFG Team Leader who has assisted at numerous kettlebell events with leading instructors. He has also done his Certified Kettlebell Functional Movement Specialist certification, and his Ground Force Method instructor course. Alongside this he is an accredited coach for athletics and basic gymnastics, and a graduate qualification in Secondary Education… and we think he is just pretty freaking awesome… oh and we like to hear him talk.