Every day, whether you notice or not, your body gives you hints about how it is doing. You may chalk up these cues to aging or even blame an inanimate object. But that’s not necessarily so. Here are some examples.
Many of us are familiar with the experience of going to the hairdresser or barber and having to lay back with our head in the cut-out portion of the sink. While most people don’t think much about this activity, a certain percentage of the population finds this position extremely uncomfortable. They may even get a headache or neck pain later. While someone with a known neck problem might expect to feel discomfort doing this, the other percentage of the population may be completely unaware that it shouldn’t be uncomfortable to do this activity. They usually assume everyone has discomfort having their hair cut!
Actually, the discomfort is an early indication that some tightness and imbalance may be starting to affect your neck muscles. Simple recognition, postural awareness and a few exercises are often extremely helpful in relieving this situation.
Another daily activity for most people is driving. While parking in a parking lot so that you don’t have to back out of a spot is common, finding yourself struggling to turn when backing up is a sign that you have lost normal mobility. People are often unaware that they have become totally reliant on their mirrors and don’t turn around at all! When asked, many of these drivers are surprised to discover that they may have a neck problem in the making.
Other tell-tale signs that there may be a neck problem are less obvious. Some people get dizzy or have discomfort when reclining in a dentist’s chair. Others blame pillows for not finding a comfortable place to put their heads at night.
Clothing offers another helpful clue to good body alignment. If, for example, the waistband of your pants or slacks start to feel higher on one side or the zipper looks crooked in the mirror – you are being given a clue. When shirts or blouses that usually fit well start to pull oddly at the buttons, and you haven’t gained weight, you are being given a clue. For women, when one bra strap consistently falls off the same shoulder, your body is trying to tell you something. You may think that the clothing has shrunk or lost its shape in the laundry—and that certainly can happen, but if more and more pieces of clothing are fitting the same irregular way—it’s you—not your clothing!
Lastly, another signal that is often blamed on aging occurs when activities such as putting on shoes and socks become a problem over a relatively short period of time, say two to four months. This usually indicates that something has locked up in your back—although it may feel like your arms are too short (or your leg muscles are too tight). Usually, stretching won’t significantly increase your mobility in this situation.
All of these seemingly little clues give you information about your body’s musculoskeletal balance. The clues can help you identify physical issues, before they develop into painful and chronic problems. A physical therapist specializing in manual treatment can help you understand and resolve the problems.