Love Handles, Chicken Necks & Potbellies

The classic indicators of body misalignment are love handles, chicken necks and potbellies – along with forward-sloping shoulders.

Love handles are the extra mass of skin, tissue and fat encircling the body between the waistline and the hips, often referred to as a “spare tire”. Love handles relocate belt buckles to a lower position than clothing designers had in mind and can be highlighted by snug, wide-striped knit shirts with a sausage-casing fit. Other than a place to grab your sweetheart, they are useless.

If you wonder what a chicken neck is, dig out some old reruns of Ally McBeal and look for the “wattle,” the hanging skin underneath the chin (and a big fetish of one attorney on the show). A chicken neck is caused by the head-forward position common to a body in postural collapse. The head is brought closer to the rib cage, causing neck muscles to grow shorter and the skin on the front of the neck to sag.

Neck muscles grow shorter when we sleep on our side in a fetal position, use a pillow to elevate our head and when we constantly look down at our work or sit or drive with an angled seat back. The skin covering the front of the neck does not change in length, but hangs at the mercy of gravity and shortened neck muscles underneath.

Potbellies are right up there (or down there) with love handles, keeping us in long sweaters and shirts and out of two-piece swimsuits. The pelvic bowl is the culprit, helped along by excess postural pounds. When the bowl is tilted forward, sagging organs inside fall forward, out of the pelvic bowl. This creates a bulge, often referred to as a “gut” or “beer belly”.

The good news is that love handles, chicken necks and potbellies cannot survive when we are in good posture.

Diane Whitacre, Structural Anatomist, RT ©2018

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