‘Chicken Neck’ Photo by zoetnet
It is common these days to see people who have what I call ‘chicken neck’ or what some others affectionately call ‘geek neck’. Make no mistake though, chicken neck is no laughing matter.
Many people are often in front of computer screens for 6-10 hours at a time with poor posture, and a problem can develop with the chin consistently jutting forward. Bill Gates when he was young, for example, had a very prominent geek neck. If you have a neck where your head is sticking way out, it is most likely compressing the vertebrae in the back of your neck and is blocking the energy flow going from your spine to your head.
Most medical issues, all problems with your body, basically come down to one of two sources:
- Genetics, something that you were born with in your body structure, or
- Environment, something external did it to you or you did to yourself.
Causes of Chicken Neck
Paul Allen on a teletype terminal w/ Bill Gates Photo by: Time Mag
There can be many causes of chicken neck and often it takes many years to develop. Maybe you were in a bad position when you came out of your mother’s womb or had a really bad birth trauma that affected the neck as your head was going across the spinal vertebrae.
Maybe when you were younger you had horrible vision and had those really big glasses. This might have caused you to stick your head forward in order to be able to read whatever it was you were reading.
For many, the most likely source is spending a lot of time on a computer or in a office job at a desk. Most people are not conscious of their posture. They habitually lean forward and over time this brings the body out of alignment (see posture of Paul Allen above).
There are many potential causes but whatever the cause I think the only rational thing to do is to look at what is possible to reverse geek or chicken neck, allowing the body to go back into its natural balanced state.
Reversing Chicken Neck
I will start by saying that if your posture has developed over many years it is not going to change overnight. You are going to have to develop a new set of habits to reprogram your body. The Taoists of old did not have computers, but they had a similar profession in writing Chinese characters, where scribes would write hundreds and thousands of characters while sitting at a desk.
There are three qigong practices that I teach that are very useful in terms of fixing/correcting a chicken neck.
The first one is Bend the Bow Qigong, which very specifically teaches you how to control the spinal vertebrae and the neck vertebrae or part of your spinal vertebrae. Bend the Bow Qigong teaches you how to effectively get your head repositioned on your skull and trains your nervous system so that your body can remember its healthy posture.
Very often people with geek necks have treatments with chiropractors, osteopaths and all sorts of body workers. However, even though they have these treatments, they don’t quite get rid of their chicken neck because they don’t actually change the signal at the pure neurological level of what is causing their body to revert to the chicken neck. I would say that Bend the Bow gets you to the place where you learn how to correct the vertebrae in your neck.
The second practice I teach that is very useful is Gods Playing in the Clouds Qigong because it allows the neck its entire range of motion.
You can learn to stabilize your neck in Heaven and Earth Qigong. The movements in Heaven and Earth Qigong are something which can prepare the spine and the neck for being able to receive what Bend the Bow can do.
In closing, simply being conscious of your posture is essential. Developing good posture is important in keeping your energy channels clear so chi can flow unblocked as you develop more chi and go deeper in your meditation practices. Often the problems people have in meditation are due to their posture being incorrect, causing chi blockages in the body.
This is why the Taoists in China always started with Tai chi and qigong before they entered meditaion, so the body can be prepared for the energetics of their meditation.
My hope is that some of the practices described here can be helpful to you or to those around you in reversing chicken neck. I welcome your feedback and comments.