My approach to baldness would be straightforward if the scalp muscles at the back of the head were easy to control. They are not. These muscles, the occipitalis muscles, are voluntary but people usually have lost control of them. When they are not used they get small, almost to the point of disappearing. The task now is to regain control of them, to tone them up, and to make them stronger. I think the following suggestions will lessen the difficulty of gaining control of the occipitalis muscles.
Learning to control the scalp muscles
First, a bit of trivia. Twice as many men compared to women can wiggle their ears. This has significance. If a man or a woman can wiggle the ears, it means that there is contraction of the muscles at the back of the head. These are the muscles that must be alternately contracted with the muscles at the front of the head during the scalp exercise.
Step number one in the learning process: Stand in front of the mirror and raise your eyebrows (contract the frontalis muscles). Next, try to pull back your ears (contract the occipitalis muscles) as you relax your forehead. There will be only a small, almost imperceptible, movement at first when you are trying to pull back your ears. The contraction of the muscles at the front of the head will be easy. These muscles are fully voluntary. The muscles at the back of the head will require a lot of work. You do not have to consciously relax these two muscle groups as you are alternately contracting them. The frontalis and occipitalis muscles are antagonistic muscles: when one contracts, the other relaxes automatically. I suggest doing the contractions with a fluid movement concentrating on good form.
Step number two: Visualize the muscles at the back of the head by looking at the drawing of the epicranial muscles. Now place your fingers over the two muscular slips at the back of the head and try to detect contraction when you move the scalp. These strategies will eventually pay off. You will start to feel a slight bunching up of the occipitalis muscles.
For a different perspective on learning the scalp exercise, go to my other website - Shape Your Face. This link will take you to exercise five which is the scalp exercise.
When I gained control of the occipitalis muscles, I was nineteen years old. It's probably much harder to gain control of them as you get older because they are starting to atrophy - to lose mass. I worked at least a half hour twice a day till I mastered the exercise. It took me two weeks to do this. I, of course, was a fanatic.
This learning process is by far the hardest part of my approach to hair loss. Muscle control requires concentration, and concentration is tedious work for most people. But I know that people who are going bald will be highly motivated to learn the scalp exercise and to do it if they feel it will bring results. These weeks of hard work will be rewarded when the exercise is finally learned and done correctly.
Here is my in-depth and slightly boring Evaluation of the Occipitalis Muscle. If you understand this difficult muscle, it will be easier to gain control of it.
My Video CD
If you want to see me demonstrate the scalp exercise that I describe on My Approach, you can order my DVD. With the DVD and the 22-page booklet, you can see how I do both the basic and the advanced exercises correctly. A fast, easy, and secure way to order my DVD and booklet is to click on the Buy Now button. All major credit cards are accepted. I always send the DVD and booklet out quickly in a plain manila envelope.
Click the top button if you live within the United States - $25 - I pay the postage.
Click the bottom button if you live outside the United States - $30 - the extra $5 is for the postage.
If you don't like to use credit cards, you can send me a check: Tom Hagerty, 6295 Delta Loop #319, Dublin, OH 43016 - $25 within the United States; $30 outside the United States.
"No more problems"
Once the exercise is learned, there will be no more problems. I used to do the basic scalp exercise at least ten minutes twice a day after I mastered it. I was highly motivated. I did it till I felt a "burn" in my occipitalis muscles. Even after only a few minutes the muscles became pumped up - an increased flow of blood into the muscles. But I kept working them more.
Well, maybe one problem: If you feel a pain in one ear or both while doing the scalp exercise, it is very likely that you have a buildup of wax in the ear canal. Have a doctor remove this hardened wax and the problem is solved. When I started doing the scalp exercise I had a lot of pain in both ears. An ear doctor removed chunks of hardened wax the size of small bullets from both ears. This took care of the pain problem.
There is no magic time limit or number of repetitions in order for the exercise to be effective. But I did it a lot, never missing a day until my hair was in good shape again. After this, perhaps a year, I did the exercise five or ten minutes a day. I don't think it takes as much exercise to maintain a good head of hair as it does to get one back after it's lost.
I hope if you work with my approach to hair loss you will tell me how you're doing. If you feel that the scalp exercise has some merit and credibility, have some photos taken before you start on the regimen. If you make some improvement in six or eight months, have some more photos taken. Send me the before-and-after shots with a note telling me what your exercise schedule was. In the meantime, read over some messages people have posted on the Discussion Forum telling of their progress or lack of progress - Testimonials.
Here's an email I got from Alex:
To give you some personal feedback, I took me about 36 hours to get my ears to move, at first it was a bit frustrating but the muscles seemed to respond as I was determined to nail the exercise. Also a textual description really doesn't capture the essence of the movement in my opinion and I simply would not have been able to perform it correctly without the video. I'd go as far to say that this exercise should probably not be attempted without the video.
All the best Tom and congratulations on devising this terrific exercise.
These messages don't say anything about Eric's or Alex's hair (I hope it all hasn't fallen out), but that's not the point. The point is that with the video CD there is no waste of time wondering if you're doing the scalp exercise right. You'll know instantly. For many people a video CD is worth a thousand words. If you have a question about any of this, go my Contact page and I'll try to help you out.
Or if you want to enter into a dialogue about any of this, just click here: Discussion Forum. There's a lot of information about how to gain control of the scalp muscles, how long and at what pace to do the exercise, and about why the scalp exercise may be beneficial to the scalp and hair. You can also go to the old Forum Archive if you want to wade through hundreds of pages of information and dis-information. It's all noncommercial with the exception of a few Google ads that I put on for decoration. J
This is an email I got from a man who ordered my video CD and booklet but was having trouble learning the basic scalp exercise:
At first I had zero progress. I thought I could feel the muscles moving, but I wasn't sure if I was just biting down hard when I was trying to move them or if they were actually moving. I did feel over the course of the next couple days, improvement in gaining control, I could definitely feel them twitching. (although my scalp wasn't moving) These past couple days I would feel my scalp move here and there, but I couldn't control the movement. It seemed like I only got slight movement when I closed my eyes and concentrated on the muscles.
Then last night before going to sleep, I closed my eyes and put my hands on my head. I felt my scalp move significantly. I could only duplicate this though with my hands on my head and my eyes closed. I stayed up for a while practicing until I was able to do the exercise with my eyes closed. I could feel my scalp moving. Then this morning I was able to do it with my eyes open.
It took me a little over a week to learn the exercises. It was slow at first, but it seemed like once I got some movement, it all came together. I can see how the exercise can be tricky to learn, I feel like I "stumbled" across grasping it last night. It could have easily taken me another week or so to learn. Keeping my eyes closed, and having my hands on my head seemed to really help. Anyway by all means use my description. This whole hair loss thing is so discouraging, hopefully it will encourage, or help someone else's progress.
Continue to - Testimonials
Terri on the discussion forum suggested that people trying to learn the scalp exercise should not frown when contracting the scalp muscles. The frown muscles, which are called procerus, draw down the eyebrows and produce vertical wrinkles over the bridge of the nose. When you're doing the scalp exercise correctly, these muscles are never brought into play.