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Scalp Flexibility

Dozens of people have asked me questions about a tight scalp: what does it feel like, does it cause hair loss, does the scalp exercise increase flexibility? These are all good questions based on the sneaking suspicion some people have about a correlation between a tight, shiny scalp and hair loss.

First of all, a few definitions so as to clarify what is really meant by scalp flexibility. There are two components of scalp flexibility or what the hair transplant surgeons call scalp laxity. The first component is the ability of the scalp to slide on the underlying layer of tissue attached to the bones of the skull. This is the kind of flexibility the scalp exercise promotes. People who do the scalp exercise correctly for a period of time often have about three quarters of an inch of scalp movement.

The second component of scalp flexibility is the ability of the skin to stretch when you pinch it. This is not related to the first component, the sliding motion. Some scalps have a lot of elasticity; others have very little. The scalp exercise will not make the scalp more flexible in this second sense of the term. 

I've seen scientific articles that state that a tight scalp usually means a thin scalp - that is, thin scalp tissue. A hair follicle that produces a terminal hair - one that is thick and usually pigmented - is between 4 and 6 millimeters long. Thin scalp tissue will not support a healthy terminal hair follicle.

But what causes a thinning of scalp tissue? It could be age - senescent thinning - or genetic predisposition. I think the scalp exercise might combat this thinning because it targets many of the components of the scalp tissue infrastructure. These components are the capillary networks in the scalp and specifically around the base of the hair follicles, lymph vessels, and muscles in the scalp and hair (arrector pili muscle). There are other factors too that cushion the hair follicles like collagen, elastin, dermal fat. People who do the scalp exercise often retain thick scalp tissue and the healthy hair follicles embedded in this tissue into advanced age. But I don't say this with much conviction because I know of only several of these people, myself included.

My trip into Mexico

This photo shows me at age 80. I'm on vacation in Mexico, doing a little prospecting for gold in the Sierra Madre mountain range. If I didn't have that hat on you could see that my hair is still healthy. But there is really no such thing as healthy hair. Hair is basically dead - no blood vessels, no nerves. There is such a thing as a healthy scalp though. A healthy scalp usually means a thick scalp full of resillient capillaries and lymph vessels, a good cushion of dermal fat, collagen, and elastin, and of course world-class hair follicles that produce fully-pigmented hair shafts. 


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