Beware Tech Neck by Risa Potters, D. C.


Long ago when I was in school studying anatomy, I had the privilege of dissecting a female body in a quiet setting.  She looked to have been in her seventies or eighties when she died, frail and thin.  What was interesting to me was the pronounced lump in the back of her neck, noticeable when we turned her on her belly.  This is sometimes known to be called a “dowager’s hump” – a term I really hate.

This protrusion growing over C7/T1, is actually a postural issue created when the heavy skull sits in a forward head position.  When the head doesn’t sit directly on top of the Atlas – the C-shaped first cervical vertebra – it glides forward; the body, in its wisdom, brings in connective tissue to cover the pronounced spinous processes of those vertebral bodies to hold the head in place.

Although that “lump” might look like new bone growing in a woman who might be osteoporotic, it’s actually soft tissue that would completely go away if her head was retracted directly on top of her spine, instead of protracted forward. 

Depressed, or looking at your phone? 

What I learned early in my training was that our bodies are plastic, able to conform to the shapes we often use.  This malleable tendency is created by our connective tissue – that soft tissue that shapes us.  Connective tissue has several different qualities:  It can be liquid, like blood; hard, like bone; or, soft, like all of the tissues that wrap our muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones.  This type of soft tissue actually holds us together, allowing us to be flexible.

When we “overuse” our muscles, for instance, our bodies target the area with more connective tissue, creating a rigidity that stabilizes and protects the area.  Those places can feel “lumpy” and sensitive.

The good news… 

The good news is that because CT is so malleable, we can change its shape easily by changing behavior.  If your shoulders feel tight, losing normal movement, doing frequent shoulder rolls and other shoulder movements with mindfulness, will eventually break through the stiff CT, liquefying and softening it.

Because we live with the heavy weight of Gravity upon us nearly 24/7, it’s important to consider Ida Rolf’s idea of stacking the joints like blocks or McKenzie’s head retraction exercises, pulling the ears back to meet the shoulders.

As Charlie Brown reminds us, our bodies are influenced by our emotions ; we tend to flex forward when we feel sad, or open and expand when we feel happy and proud.  Changing into an expansive body position can shift our mood into a positive place if we have have been feeling depressed.  By now we should all realize that the body and mind communicate. 

The magnificent Jane Goodall… 

“It’s been an amazing journey, this life of mineThis planet has filled me with the wonder of all living things, great and small.  We cannot ignore this Earth that surrounds us, that feeds us, shelters us, replenishes our bodies and souls and stretches our imaginations….Where animals, plants and air all care for us. 

We’re all connected – people, animals and our environment.  When Nature suffers, we suffer and when Nature flourishes, we all flourish.” -Jane Goodall 

Jane Goodall just won the prestigious Templeton Prize, for a lifetime’s work on saving the lives of the chimps – our closest primate relatives.  I’m putting this section about Jane Goodall into this blog because of her work.  We can see the similarities between us and the chimps just by looking at how our structures have evolved.  According to Jane, Chimps are similar to humans in these ways:

-They can live to be 60 years old;

-They use sounds, gestures and movements to communicate;

-They have sophisticated cooperation between one another;

-They understand suffering and emotions;

-They recognize themselves.

We share 98.6% of our DNA with the chimps, including similar brain structure and immunity.  They form family relationships and suckle their young for 5 years.

There is a blurry line between us and the chimps, especially when we now see our posture folding into chimp shape as we drop into “tech neck”…

Broccoli and Me by Risa Potters, D. C.

I’m a gardener, and when my own garden isn’t producing what I need, I either go to the local farmers market, or I go to a farm not far from where I live to fill in the rest.  The farm is family owned and has been around for years on many acres of beautiful, rich land.  When you drive down the road that leads to the entrance, during the summer months there are perfect rows of vegetables sharing space with corrals of resting horses that greet you on the way in.  When I see that much healthy produce spread as far as the eyes can see, row after row, I feel rich – not because the produce is expensive, but because it is abundant. This promise of health in the form of real food, to me, is luxury.  Unlike processed food-like substances, this food won’t kill you; instead, it gives you life.

I digress – I mean to talk to you about the many benefits of broccoli and some of the other produce in the family of cruciferous vegetables.  Aside from broccoli, this group includes vegies like cauliflower, kale, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, brussel sprouts and mustard.  Although they share many wonderful and important qualities, broccoli is the only one of this group that produces sulforaphane. 

“One of the most potent natural anti-cancer compounds ever discovered.” 

The above quote got my attention; it is referring to a compound found in broccoli sprouts called, Sulforaphane.  Broccoli, I discovered, came to this country from the Mediterranean in 1910, only about one hundred years ago, delivered by some Italians.  Sulforaphane, this extraordinary compound, was discovered in the early 1990’s, at John Hopkins University, and apparently there are just two ways to consume it:  Sprouting broccoli seeds and eating the sprouts or taking a Supplement.

I’ve been sprouting seeds in mason jars since my early twenties, so when I started reading the research on Sulforaphane, I got out the mason jars and cheese cloth and stocked up on organic broccoli seeds.  In my enthusiasm, I even gave the seeds to friends, wanting them to share the incredible benefits of this compound; I didn’t realize, however, that most people won’t go to the trouble of sprouting and would rather take a supplement.  There are issues with both ways:  The seeds must be organic and, even then, may not have an important precursor to sulforaphane – glucoraphanin.  This is true for both the sprouts and the supplements.  In addition, our gut microbiome must have a particular enzyme – myrosinase – in order to convert the glucoraphanin to sulforaphane; not all of us have this enzyme in our gut microbiome.

In addition, unless you disinfect the seeds, you risk spoiling the sprouts, which can be a potential source of food born illness.  To avoid this possibility, the researcher who started all this disinfects his seeds with a 1:10 bleach/water solution, which admittedly, I haven’t tried yet.  If you aren’t sure about using bleach on these precious seeds, there are other ways to disinfect them: Try rinsing with such things as vinegar, grapefruit seed extract or hydrogen peroxide.  The other option, buying the sulforaphane supplements, can be expensive and there are just a few companies that do it right and produce supplements with the needed precursors.

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”  – Michael Pollan 

You could also do both, just to cover your bases – make sprouts and take the supplements, along with eating the broccoli plant; you won’t get the sulforaphane eating the plant (that important compound is only in the sprouts), but there are many important properties in the different parts of the broccoli plant, as well as the other crucifers.  As the plant grows, it produces important compounds at different stages of the plant’s growth that are used for its protection against possible predators.  These compounds are repurposed by us as we eat them, adding to the strength of our own immune system…The broccoli stalks (which I love and peel and eat raw), have lots of soluble fiber; the leaves that grow off the stalk are filled with chlorophyll; the heads are abundant with vitamin C and other nutrients; and, eventually the heads produce flowers that go to seed, where the sulforaphane is finally produced.  Then, in order to get the sulforaphane, the seeds are sprouted and consumed.

The Many Benefits of Consuming Sulforaphane 

When I hear about something as exciting and important as Sulforaphane, I feel compelled to share it with the people I care about.   Why shouldn’t everyone learn about something this exciting that will increase your health span and lifespan?  Here are the six benefits that we know of from consuming sulforaphane, … 

1). Lowers the risk of cancer:  Researchers found that this compound enhances deactivation of carcinogens (like glyphosate), increasing protection from DNA damage, slowing progress of the disease in cancers of the prostate, bladder, breast and colon. 

2). Improves detoxification capacity in all three phases of detoxification in every cell.  Unlike other antioxidants, like vitamin C, whose effects last for about a day, this compound’s effects last seventy-two hours or more, without buildup.

3). Protects the brain and restores cognition.  Encourages formation of new neurons and synapses, increasing Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), an important protein that enhances healthy brain activity, cognition and nerve growth.  Increases BDNF in conditions like:  Autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, anxiety, brain trauma, accelerated aging, neurotransmitter dysfunction, obesity and schizophrenia.  Also, decreases brain inflammation and improves learning and memory. 

4). Decreases generalized inflammation.  Modulates joint inflammation. 

5). Slows aging.  Acts as a potent antioxidant, augments glutathione, the body’s most important antioxidant.

6). Improves cardio metabolic health.  Decreases Insulin Resistance, improves glucose tolerance by favorably affecting lipid profiles, regulates the heart muscle, improves endothelial function and improves metabolic disorders – obesity, type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Risa Potters, D. C.