Head-carrying – Definition
Head-Carrying heavy stuff on their heads with relative ease. With most load-bearing means, the heavier the weight, the more energy you need to burn to carry it. Not so with head porterage. Would we all be better off moving large letters on our heads? Based on women’s educations of the Luo and Kikuyu tribes of East Africa.
Mark has already mentioned this case from the coroners’ investigations on farming work. But it got me rational about another set of issues overall. The mixture of a large load of hay on your head, a heavy woollen dress and high breezes could be fatal. Why did women carry things on their heads?
There is good visual evidence from feudal and early modern north-west Europe that it used to be commonplace for women to carry heavy or difficult loads in this way. I know the earliest English example in the Luttrell Psalter, an extremely tightfitting illuminated manuscript from the initial fourteenth century, now maintained by the British Library. Among its many scenes of agricultural life is one of sheep being milked in pen, whilst two women walk away with pots on their heads, presumably carrying the milk back to the farm
Research of Head Carrying
Researchers have found that persons can carry loads of up to 20 per cent of their body weight without expending any extra energy beyond what they’d use by walking around creative. Above that figure, however, metabolic costs seem to increase equivalently with load weight. But don’t start stacking groceries on your head just yet. The subjects in these studies began head-loading as children and had advanced a strange gait that’s one-third more efficient than the one we’re likely to use.
For inexpert controls who have not had years to strengthen the correct muscles and build up spinal bone density, carrying things on your head requires more liveliness than using a backpack. And though the Luo and Kikuyu women did not have a critical incidence of musculoskeletal injuries, apart from permanently corrugated skulls.
Other head loaders have reported severe neck pain and generally prefer the stability and freedom of movement that back-loading affords. According to one study, many Xhosa women in South Africa employ head-loading because it happens to be well-suited to the rough, rural terrain and the particular objects they carry—like buckets of water and bundles of firewood. When they move to more built-up areas, they ditch the practice. On the other hand, in Ghana, young females from the unhappy rural north flock to big cities to labour as head porters.
Benefits of Head-Carrying on the Head
Carrying weight on the head is an original activity. Instead, we have done it for millions of years.
Chance of any hunting success, a few class members hit the obsidian at productive angles that resulted in decent weapons. He believes that the relevant DNA for existence good at this task has been conserved through the generations in these individuals. Making stone tools like arrowheads was necessary for our past, with the “tool kit” enduring unchanged for an unexpectedly.
A long period of a million years in the archaeological record. Given this length of time and the utility of creating decent arrowheads, it makes sense that this ability would have been naturally particular. For most significant societies it’s been quite a long time since we needed this ability. Most of us have lost the genetic traits that support making good arrowheads. Still, it seems that the relevant code persists in a small percentage of us.
A similar situation holds for carrying on the head. People have taken on their heads for a very long time and have continued to do so until very recently. It’s still essential in some areas of the world. A small weight on the head is a cue for neck and back preservative muscles to engage. This defends the spine from compression. It is striking that this compound muscular response is intact even when we have gone our whole lives without the signal-response being activated.
Benefits of Head-carrying weight on your head
It benefits you find your axis
Locating the spot on the top of the head is easy, and once you apply a weight there, you have a very visceral sensation of your vertical axis. The weight acts as an incentive to line up the applicable bones/joints; misalignment is suddenly very palpable as your muscles work harder than you are used to against the weight. If your head has drifted forward, your neck muscles are dealing with a lot of torque, which is inefficient and feels tiring; the body naturally corrects to be most efficient.
Strengthens your Longus Head-Carrying Muscles in the Neck
When you apply weight to the head, it serves as a cue to engage your stabilizer muscles. This help braces the body, like a column, underweight. The importance strengthens your long collie muscle and your inner corset muscles throughout the torso. These are the muscles that support and brace your spinal column to prevent compression during physical activities. So strengthening them will make you more resistant to wear and tear as well as injury.
Head-Carrying Actually Disadvantage
The common wisdom is that women of Africa find it easy to carry items on their heads. New research suggests doing so is a pain in the neck and no more efficient than other methods.
The women do so primarily out of necessity when they need their arms to help travel over rugged terrain.
The findings of experts in Scotland and South Africa challenge research shown about 25 years ago that suggested the technique of resting items. Atop the head was suggestively more efficient than carrying them by hand or in a rucksack and that African. Women could naturally carry loads up to a fifth of their body weight in such a manner. One clarification was that part of the energy that life the load could convert into energy used for travelling.
In the early modern period, such images are typical. The image below is from a 1540s book of hours from Flanders and shows a woman carrying food. Out to harvest workers with a basket on her head. A very similar English scene.