My Neck, My Back

I start every morning looking like a murdered Vitruvian Man floating upside down in a lake.

Still in bed, I stretch both feet to either edge of the mattress, take a deep breath, then twist my shoulders clockwise until every ::pop pop pop::makes its way down my spine. Nothing happens when I try the other direction.

If everything breaks right, I usually collapse on my pillow, exhaling long enough to convince myself I'll never get up. You've done it. You've finally reached a state of physical euphoria. Back pain is a thing of the past.

::ting ting ting ting::  :ting ting ting ting:: It's my sixth phone alarm. Eternal bed rest isn't an option. And besides, my neck still hurts.

It's no easy task holding a size 7 7/8 head upright every day, so my neck requires equal attention. One quick-relief maneuver is the classic rip from right-to-left with the chin on each palm. It's a novice move that sometimes does more harm than good, but we're not looking for perfection here. Just trying to make it to the bathroom.

My daily trudge to the shower is just like yours, except halfway through I take a break to stretch. I'm 28 years old.

One foot in front of the other, hands into fists and pressed into the middle of my spine, I lean backwards until there's nowhere left to go.::pop pop pop pop:: We're almost there.

Steam loosens the body, including my ankles. Independently, each foot is planted into the linoleum. Pressing both hands against sliding glass wall, I twist each leg inward until I feel the deep ::pop:: I'm looking for. This is my ankle's only appearance during the day, and it is a loud one.

Halfway through the clean, I'm limber enough to pull off the next move: a toe-touching shoulder-rip. While it may sound like an aggressive Crosstfit exercise, it's really just another way to ::rrriiiippp:: the middle of my back.

The final stretch comes while I brew the day's coffee. Our old friend The Neck makes his first of many reappearances, but this is a calmer exchange. 

With my left hand, I pull the top of my head down toward my shoulder. If things are really tight, I'll hear a few ::pop pops:: from between my shoulders. Now with my right, I gently press upward on my chin, an angle just different enough to ::pop:: produce ::pop:: drastic ::pop:: results.

Everything's settled now, and I should be pain free for at least an hour. I lean on an AeroPress, my slo-mo version of slamming the button at the top of the Aggro Crag. Just another gold medal in the battle against my two opponents -- my neck and my back.