Sunday, August 28, 2005

A Simple Lesson

The one thing most teachers wil not teach is how to learn -- on one’s own, because if they did, the need for the teacher disappears. Yet that should be the objective of the true teacher -- to bring his student to that point at which the student is his own teacher, and master, and learns directly from life. But increasingly in a world of “media” and institutionalized learning, we only learn what the pedagogue has to teach, the advertiser wants to sell, the demagogue wants everybody to believe, which might not be what we want to know, and without that passion for learning, it becomes a struggle between the teacher and the student -- undermining both.

In most exercise instruction, what is not taught is the essential principle of all movement -- the muscle contraction, that when one experiences, then knows how to effect in every muscle of their body, and therefore doesn‘t need to be instructed further on the appropriate exercise (movement) for each muscle. The most conveniently instructive muscle is the action of the heart -- which is the muscle that is always working, and the way it works is to contract fully (100%) AND relax fully (100%). That is the characteristic action of a pump.

A person whose specialty is just the heart, might think that the heart is the only muscle in the body that behaves that way, and so if the objective is to increase the circulation, one simply needs to make the heart beat faster. (It can’t beat any harder because it always contracts 100%.) And while there is much talk about exercise benefiting the cardiovascular system, very little attention is paid to the fact that the -vascular component is very different from the cardio- component.

As a purely health maintenance practice, training the voluntary muscles of the body to aid and enhance the circulatory effect by mimicking the action of the heart in producing a full contraction from the extremities of the body towards the heart -- achieves that effect, while requiring the heart to work less hard! The heart is the hardest working, if not the only properly working muscle in the body of many people, and when the voluntary muscles perform that action of contraction (compression) to pump fluids back towards the heart, it creates space for the heart to pump blood into -- against less resistance.

Noticeably absent from most fitness instruction is this basic lesson of what needs to be achieved -- in instructing one to operate the treadmill, the stair stepper, weight machines, calisthenics, virtually any apparatus or movement. Not using the fullest contraction possible as the standard of the objective, it is quite possible that the movement or machine does not achieve this desired effect -- and why the immediately transformative effect is not evident in most exercisers -- when it should not only be possible in everyone, but inevitable proof that one is accomplishing anything but simply wasting his time and energy.

When one has a familiarity with what a full muscle contraction is -- he will know how to recognize it in any other muscle. So that is the essential one thing that is never taught.


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