Cob webs. Those dusty strings of fiber woven across surfaces; remnants of stagnation cluttering a space with neglect. This is quite a strange concept to imagine happening inside your own body. But is it true? How can muscles grow cob webs?

Have I got a story for you.

The Haunted House

Imagine, if you will, a house, nestled on a quaint street in Anytown, USA. This is no ordinary house, and certainly not like any of the others on the street. This particular house has been abandoned for decades. The wood siding is rotted, windows broken, roof warped, and the lawn is completely overgrown. No one has been there in ages and for good reason; there are stories about that place that would curl your nose hairs…So how’s about we go inside?

Entering the front door we see that the inside is in much worse condition than the out. Dark and smelly, dusty and crumbled, this home is netted with cob webs in every corner and crevice. Why is that? Well, the cob webs are basically foreclosed spider webs left by their owners and they just sit there, neglected, collecting dust. The longer they’ve been there the thicker and dustier they get. But why does this house have them and every other house on the street doesn’t?

Movement

A house that is lived-in has people moving around, inside and out, walking, sitting, cleaning, entertaining. These people keep the place tidy because of their activity and movement. Any webs that appear will be removed promptly, and no build up will ever occur. But the abandoned house is quite the contrary, there is no activity at all, so the more time without movement inside, the more abundantly the cob webs procreate.

The Fuzz

Guess what…that same idea holds just as true for your body too, because when your muscles experience little or no movement or activity they will literally grow cob webs. Now these are not webs of spider silk, duh, but real webs made of collagen fibers produced by your own body. See, muscles are brilliantly designed to glide over and across each other in unlimited directions. This ability keeps your body supple and flexible, and at the same time helps your muscles work as efficiently as possible, reducing the amount of energy you use to move your body. Whenever you rest, whether to watch TV, or go to sleep, meditate, or even read this article, your body has this uncanny habit of stringing collagen fibers from one muscle to another, bridging and binding them together. This process occurs all the time in you, but it happens on a microscopic level. There’s not enough fiber to lock the muscles together…yet. As soon as your body moves again and those muscles begin to flex and slide, the collagen fibers snap away and disintegrate. That’s nice. Now think about this, have you ever noticed after you’ve been sitting for a long time, or just after waking up in the morning, you have this instinctive urge to stretch your body? That is actually your body’s natural way of cleaning out the webs after the rest. And this doesn’t only happen in humans; you can even see your dogs and cats do it every time they get up from resting! They’re clearing out their webs too.

Muscles get Stuck

Rest grows webs, no exception. That said, it must be understood that the longer you rest, the more abundant the webs grow. Imagine if you spent your whole day at a desk and computer. You’re in a chair, staring forward with your hands in front of you at the mouse and keyboard, and you sit like that 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, 50 weeks a year, for years and years and years. That to me sounds like a whole lot of Not Moving. Yes, when you get up for lunch or a printout you will move a little, but definitely not enough to clean out all those webs in your neck, shoulders and back. And then you go right back to sitting again…for hours. Meanwhile you’re probably not drinking much water either. Can you see the pattern here? More web growth from inactivity and less stretch and flex for those muscles. It’s no wonder you’re always feeling achy, you are literally gluing your muscles together by sitting for so long.

Oh, and another thing; you know how some people get that bump on their spine where the neck and the shoulders meet? That’s called a Dowager’s Hump. And guess what it’s made of… Cob Webs! After years of poor posture, lack of varied movement and exercise, and also some shoddy nutrition, your body will do whatever it can to keep that head of yours from falling forward. So your cells will knit layers and layers of webs to create a solid support. Eventually this can lead to weak bones and potentially a nice big hunch. Aren’t you glad you scoffed when your teacher told you to sit up straight?

So how can you stop this?

Get Those Muscles Moving

If you’re sitting, get up, move yourself around and stretch every 30 minutes. Yes, Every 30 Minutes! Trust me, I’ve worked at desk jobs for over 15 years before I started doing the work I do now, I know how difficult it is to break away from your work that frequently. Do It Anyway, and do your best! If you’re watching TV or reading a book, shift your body around regularly. Outside of work you must exercise your body and move in ways that are different from your day’s routine; this is very true even for folks with active jobs also. Move Differently. How often do you move yourself sideways at work? Probably not much. Well, those muscles on the sides of your legs and hips that move you sideways are growing webs all day, every day. If you neglect their function they will confirm that with adhesion; that equals aching and stiffness.

Yoga is an excellent activity to move your body differently. Dance is great also. Just do something other than what you have been doing regularly. And do it often.

Here’s a little tip I found many years ago. Since I worked at a computer for so long doing graphic arts I wanted a way to take breaks easily, so I found a free application called Time Out. It fades your computer screen away at customizable intervals influencing you to stop working for a spell. It works great, and you can set the breaks whenever you want, 10 min, 30 min, anything. Find it here, it’s free:  http://www.dejal.com/timeout/    I have a Mac and it only works on Macs, but I know there are equivalent programs just like this for Windows computers.

Keep Your “House” Clean

The more you move, and the more variety in your movement, the healthier, stronger and more comfortable you will be. And fear not all of you who have years of webs already strung throughout your body, with persistence, patience, and some good massages, you can return your muscles to their healthy, flexible state again.

 

p.s.

I highly recommend you watch this video to get an even better understanding. The concept of these cob webs is made very clear in a short video called “The Fuzz Speech” by Gil Hedley, Ph.D. In it you will see images of actual dissected human muscles with webs intact –although Gill calls it “Fuzz”. It’s a very fascinating video that will, without a doubt, get you moving.

 

 

Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash

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