Several years ago during lunch, my sister told me, “You’re doing turtle neck.” As I considered how you “do” a sweater, she clarified that I was thrusting my head forward, making it stick out in front instead of in alignment with my top vertebrae. I looked like a turtle poking its head out of its shell. The more boring official term for this is forward head posture or scholar’s neck or text neck (a sign of the times). It’s one of the most common causes of poor posture.
I started paying attention. And it was true. I kept pushing my face forward, like I was constantly trying to smell a flower just out of reach. Adjust. A few minutes pass. Check in. I was a turtle once more. My body didn’t understand its transgression, it simply reverted to what it knew as normal, what I had taught it.
For 30 years, I taught my body to be smaller, to look different, to protect my ruby egg of a heart. My body is only trying to be my friend by holding on to that lesson. My default became lifting my shoulders to my ears and curling my back, like I am trying to hug my body into a compact ball. But recently this has been causing me pain, and often pain initiates action. So I set off on a mission to straighten up, testing treatment options and talking to experts who could help me navigate my way out of my turtle world.