Turtle Neck

Tortoise I know this is a tortoise, not a turtle

Necks suffer. Necks turn into turtles. Turtlenecks. Hard at the back, soft in the front. A carapace turtling forward. The neck is a victim of the shoulder blades flaring and gluing into an open wing position, all the muscles of the upper back corrugating into  a granite range pushing the head forward like a wind-blasted pine on a precipice. It is sculpted by years of looming over a silicon valley.

We are talking humps here. Humpbacks, hunchbacks, kyphosis-call it what you will, the species is spreading.

The back of the neck becomes as compact and dense as a dromedary’s bump, to try and pull back the head from tilting forward like a Pisan tower. The front of the neck with its complement of muscles falls into neural silence, a rain shadow hooding the struts and buttresses that are supposed to antagonize the agonists at the back. Instead, the scaffolding collapses deep into the chest, and fascial shortening contracts the whole sternal area into a sinkhole of atrophy. As a final insult, the chin is forced up, giving the miserable creature an appearance of a tortoise peering out and up.

Such a human cannot breathe, stand up, or walk tall and proud. Condemned to hunch, a capuchin monk, chest depression shortens the breath, leading to staccato or haphazard breathing, and an ever-present gloam of unease and maybe inky clouds of Melancholia.

Re-alignment has to come from the Front. The northern Front, and the southern Front. For this is a battle. A battle against Habit, Gravity and Chairs.

I can fix almost any posture if given enough time to keep checking. The front has to be reclaimed. But first, the shoulder blades have to be pushed back into something like the suburbs of normality. This can be done with a quick little trick. Then, the horse-trading begins. The blades going back can pull the shoulders into a more equitable (or even equine) position, BUT the shortening of the chest tissue will pull up the sternum like a rearing mare and arch the lower back, and maybe make the chin lose its moorings and float up. In order to secure progress, all elements need to be adjusted a little in tandem with each other, as each has a tension integrity connection with the rest. Like commanders moving ships or tanks on a board slowly forward, you need to move all the actors in the head at a speed commensurate with incremental progress on all fronts.

The effort that is needed to remould the upper back and neck is in direct proportion to the time you have spent inflicting it upon yourself via screen-peering on woeful desks which are not measured to your exact proportions. Spending all day sitting on a chair looking at a screen (said he on his laptop) is deeply unnatural and is spawning a new generation of misshapen, pale “Officers” who suffer as much a badly neglected plant in a dim corner.

In the Hun Yuan tai chi-xing yi form, if you move quickly, and in ba gua also, if your neck isn’t securely moored, it will flop like a pigtail, and your capacity to execute a powerful strike will be negated. As I have mentioned elsewhere many times, when the Chinese came to tai chi or ba gua in the violent past, they often had a martial past already or were manual workers with a strong body. When he struck out from the Chen village, seeking his fortune with his “Unbeatable” status, Yang Lu Chan could hardly have imagined how his secret family art, a hybrid of various strands from the remote past, could have ended up being used to heal injured and damaged Foreign Devils in vast cities across the Silk Road to the west. He may well have stroked his wispy beard on that perfectly aligned head, and laughed in disbelief.

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