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I've been thinking about stooping recently, and by stooping I mean bending the head and neck forwards from the shoulders. It's such a common habit. Interestingly, when I spent a few weeks in an African country, the local people were noticeable to me because they didn't stoop at all...but that's another story.

When my son was really little I got into the habit of stooping in order to be involved with him at his level. A considerable amount of time passed before I realised that I was causing myself a pain at the base of my neck.

People stoop in all sorts of situations, especially anything involving reading and writing. Screens seem to almost demand it. Modern school and office desks encourage it by being flat instead of sloping. Many professions involve awkward postural challenges which invariably contribute.

The spine is very flexible but unfortunately when it's continuously used in this way the results are damaging. When people develop a 'dowager's hump' it is because the area around the 7th cervical vertebra is so traumatised that it begins to deform.

This can happen at a surprisingly young age. I worked for a while with a desk-bound young man who can only have been in his early thirties. Despite being very fit and healthy, hours of repeatedly pouring over documents had already caused a significant bump.

So, what is the solution? Well, firstly you could try to just stop. Find more efficient ways to support yourself, and move, and bring things nearer to your eyes. If you aim to never do it but end up doing it occasionally, that's much better than the other way round.

Secondly, if you need to lower yourself you could aim to always bend the joints of your legs rather than your spine. Again, if you try to always do this, the occasional times when you forget won't do much harm.

Thirdly, you could do some Alexander training, where the teacher would be able to show you how comfortable you could potentially be and help you to change your habit.

Personally I find a mixture of all three to be best:)

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