“Your head is on a swivel. Use it.”
Legendary racehorse trainer Charlie Whittingham, to jockey who lost a race because he didn’t turn his head to see the winner overtaking him.
What do you notice about yourself as you read this post? When looking below eye level, most of us collapse down and hold our head out in front of us, instead of remaining upright as we balance our head at the top of our neck. Believe it or not, there is no good reason to collapse. Collapsing down makes more work for us, especially looking side to side, or up and down. Using all that extra effort in our neck compromises how we do everything. Everything. Everything!
The top joint on our spine (Atlanto-occipital joint, AO) is where we should be moving our head when looking up or down. In this illustration, it’s where the neck ends at the top of our spend just above the top vertebra, in red).This joint is almost as high as our ear-holes, and is designed to articulate head movement.. Think of that top joint as allowing your head to move all around, as if you have a ball joint (that’s not exactly the case, but is really helpful). Thinking this way gives you more freedom to move your head back and forth and side to side more easily.
The easiest way to use the AO joint is to nod up and down a little, like you’re buying a Picasso an auction. Your eyes keep looking forward, independent of your nodding head. Or think of the king of cool — James Bond. Bond would never slump down, even to light his cigarette. To look down, he needs only his eyes and a free joint at the top of his neck.
Try using your AO joint by nodding, just a small movement. To look at the ground, first let your nose drop, and see if you can let go just at the top of your neck. To look up, again think of the top of your neck. That’s where the articulation is. The bump on the back of your head drops down, your nose goes up in the air, and between them is the AO joint, letting it happen. (the AO joint is a bit lower, but thinking of it way up high is fine. It’s when we think of the movement from lower down the neck that’s harmful).
All this nodding from the top of your spine does four important things for you:
- It involves far less work for your neck
- It removes collapsing to look down
- It helps your ease and coordination
- It makes you look like James Bond
If you don’t care about looking like James Bond, you are crazy; everyone wants to look like James Bond.
Now you are ready to effortlessly take on the world, or at least nod along.