The other day I was pouring a smoothie for supper. And I noticed that I was doing it teapot style.
You know …
“I’m a little teapot short and stout
Here is my handle, here is my spout
When I get all steamed up hear me shout,
Tip me over and pour me out!”
Yeah. That one. I was bending over at my waist, which means that my spine was side bending in order for me to not lift my shoulder so I could pour a smoothie out of a pitcher into a glass.
Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal. And if that’s the only time I ever did that then I’d say, “No problem!”
But it’s not. It’s a well-established habit I’ve had for who-knows-how-long before I finally noticed that I was using my spine to pour.
Not my job
Pouring is not a job for the spine. It’s a job for the shoulder. And while my spine can handle that job for now, if I keep doing this motion for days and weeks and years, it’s going to break down that spot in my spine that gets squished every time I pour something like smoothies. With a little bit of banana, granola, and chia seeds. Yum!
But boo for my spine.
And how about my shoulder which, hey, doesn’t seem to want to move without taking both my shoulder blade and spine with it.
Which means that my shoulder really isn’t doing its job but is handing it off to his neighbors.
Hey Shoulder, nobody likes a moocher!
Can you believe that guy?
Back to (shoulder) school
So I did what any responsible shoulder-owner would do. I started training my beloved shoulder how to do its part. I sent it to shoulder obedience school, if you will.
Unfortunately because I’ve been doing this particular movement for a long time, I also needed to re-educate my spine to hold its ground instead of automatically jumping in to assist his buddy the shoulder. That’s tough love!
After a few days of consistent training, I started to notice when I was pouring, if I started to lift my spine, I could stop it and use my shoulder instead. After a few weeks of practice and more training, I no longer had to correct my movement but was doing it correctly automatically!
As a bonus, that spot in my upper back (right next to my shoulder blade I might add) that has bothered me since my second child was born, no longer hurt every time I took a deep breath. Praise God!
One small step
While this is a victory for my spine and shoulder, it is not the only compromise my body makes to get around a movement it doesn’t use (or like to use).
Which is why it’s great to have guidelines to keep checking in with our bodies to make sure they are working correctly and more quickly notice when something is amiss.
Knowing the “rules” of our bodies’ design is crucial. But it’s only the first step. The next step is following them.
So for anyone who is looking to use their body in the healthiest way possible, in the way that God designed it, these guidelines are important. Because without knowing the laws, how can we hope to follow them?
Natural laws rule
It doesn’t matter if you believe in gravity or not. If you walk off a roof, you’re going to fall.
Likewise with the natural laws that govern our body. They have not changed since we were created. It’s just that we have either forgotten them … or ignored them.
So, let’s study them. Let’s understand how it affects our bodies. And in the meantime, check in with your body and see what crazy compensations (compromises) you are making which are causing a chain reaction somewhere else.
Compromise is not okay. Physically, mentally, or spiritually. You know what they say about a slippery slope. Just a little compromise matters.
Begin at the beginning
To get started, first check out this post for the “rules” of our structural design.
And secondly, keep an eye out for some of these sneaky movements and postures that let you know you might need to do a bit a “schooling” for your shoulder too.
- Using the spine with arm movement (like my teapot scenario)
- Hiking the shoulder to lift the arm (i.e. bringing the shoulder to the ear)
- Winging shoulder blades
- Uneven shoulders (one shoulder looks higher than the other)- check out this post on symmetry
The good news is, you don’t really have to understand all of the “wrong” ways you can use your body as long as you know the right way.
Just like we don’t have to know all the ways we can sin. We just need to know God’s rules of how to do right. He summed it up neatly in 10 rules. TEN!
And praise God that He doesn’t even ask us to follow a measly 10 rules on our own. He’s here us to help keep us from the least bit of compromise. We just have to ask.
And He, as the designer and life-giver of our bodies is more than willing to help us understand how these complex pieces of machinery work. We need only ask and be willing to put forth the effort to do what He says.
Do try this at home
Check in with your own shoulders. Pour something. Notice how you use (or don’t use) your shoulder. Try it on both sides. Note any differences.
If you have kids, make a game out of spotting the compensations and practicing the “right” way to pour. It’s never too early to start learning good postural habits! Much easier to learn the right way early than to fix poor habits later. But take heart, it’s never too late to start a good habit!
And you never know. Something as insignificant as pouring might just change your life.
“And it came to pass, before he had finished speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out … with her pitcher on her shoulder. And the servant ran to meet her and said, Let me drink a little water from your pitcher … And when she had given him a drink, she said, ‘I will draw water for your camels also.’ ” Genesis 24:15, 17, 19
“Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the waterpots with water.” When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, (he said), ‘You have kept the good wine until now.” John 2:7, 9, 10
“There came a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.'” John 4:7
“Then Mary took about a pint of … expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.” John 12:3