Thursday, June 22, 2006

Moving the Feet

Walking and running are actually inferior conditioning exercises because the range of motion is limited by the weight borne. The range of foot movement possible is obviously much greater when the foot is not required to bear any weight -- as when sitting, one points the toes straight down (as ballerinas are wont to do), or one lifts their toes as close to the shin as possible.

The range of movement is much more important than the amount of resistance or distance traveled, time, etc. -- in the exercise equation, or any other factor (speed, duration, pain, effort, difficulty, etc.) What that present and ultimate range will be for everybody varies by genetic potential -- but each individual can explore and expand that range within their own potential. But the general rule is that moving at an axis (joint) through its greatest range of movement causes maximum relaxation and contraction of the particular muscles involved -- and if it begins at the furthest extremity of the body (head, hands and feet), the greater the potential to engage all the muscles on back towards the heart -- and origin of all the muscles back towards that same convergence of the lungs and heart.

The greatest function of any muscle, is to enlist and engage the help of the larger supporting muscle to which it is attached. That is why the old notion of “exercising a muscle in isolation throughout its greatest range of movement,” fails -- because it cannot achieve its greatest range of movement in isolation. No muscle behaves that way by design -- and if it does, must lead to an eventual injury, because of the disproportionate strength it will have in relationship to the adjoining, supporting muscles, which requires a proper balance of development.

That was the fatal flaw I first noted at the height of the Nautilus machines craze in the mid-80s, and informed their proponents of. That was the reason the fantastic results promised were not forthcoming -- even if every repetition of each exercise was carefully monitored by “personal trainers” to insure strict performance. Originally, the inventor claimed these machines were “foolproof,” and one could not help but use these machines properly, and productively. “Only a fool could not use these machines properly,” he (Arthur Jones) stated confidently.

However, many of his ideas were principles I used as the basis for developing my own -- on the need for integrated movement. That’s how ideas develop and are evolved -- from one generation to the next. Many of my friends from that early period of involvement, are also leading proponents of alternate training methodologies -- most notably Dr. Ken Leistner of the High Intensity Training school, which we co-championed at different venues in the ‘70s.

My varied experiences and wanderings led me far beyond the world of athletic preoccupations -- to the other end of the spectrum, in which people were in conditions of dying and given no hope for continued survival. Every day was a monumental struggle, and every effort a monumental achievement. Through those differences though, one could see the great principles of human functioning involved at work at its most primal level -- uncomplicated by all the theories, explanations, alibis, delusions and deceptions.


At June 22, 2006 12:28 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The two variations that exercise the feet -- and therefore all the muscles leading back towards the origin of the muscle system at the diaphragm from that axis (focus) of movement, is simply holding the top of a counter or back of a chair and while rocking side to side, lifting the toes while the heel maintains contact with the floor with the foot not bearing the weight. Do 25 repetitions with each foot, for a total count of 50 -- which takes approximately one minute.

The range not covered previously in the first exercise (movement), is simply holding on to the top of a counter or back of a chair and raising up on one’s toes as high as possible, which is the basic power movement involved in jumping, running, walking, etc. -- pushing off with the toes. Since both feet are doing the movement simultaneously, only 25 repetitions are necessary. The ideal range for every movement is 25-50. If one does fewer than 25 repetitions or fails before then, the exercise is not aerobic but anaerobic, and if one can achieve 50 reps, he can probably go on indefinitely -- but doesn’t have to unless he wants to.

So there are two variations that ensure the full range of the hand movements, and two for the feet. In the one-minute workout, I discussed the one exercise most important to ensure priority circulation and movement to the head (brain), of which I noted that those with declining mental abilities usually lacked responsiveness and movement at the head -- in addition to their lack of responsiveness in any other way.

Finally, for those who require a more demanding movement to attain a greater sense of having done something, I suggested a few posts back “No Pain, All Gain,“ that the proper basic lifting movement also simulated the proper rowing motion, and could be an ultimately demanding exercise dependent on how many repetitions one attained.

All that can be done in five-minutes or less a day -- preferably at the beginning of each day to quickly attain full operating capacity -- mentally, physically, temperamentally. If further growth stimulation is required, once a week at a gym would be sufficient to provide that increased workload. That was the shocking discovery in finding out how little could be done -- and still induce growth, at the Boston YMCA’s “Scientific Weight-Training” program when we became “too popular,” with too many participants to individually train, and too little time to do so.

Back then, we could achieve extreme muscle soreness lasting a week, from only a five-minute high intensity workout done once a week. The downside was that most people don’t want to spend a week just recovering from their once a week workout only to produce that same soreness as soon as they fully recovered -- even if the muscular gains were forthcoming and undeniable. It was another reward/cost equation we had to consider. Dedicated bodybuilders and professional athletes may like it as validation that they are making progress -- but most people living other lives of interest, will find that detracting from their primary pursuits.

Eventually I worked out the bugs and all the proper balances to what I’ve just summarized in the last several posts -- as the definitive, state-of-the-art understanding of exercise and conditioning up to this present moment.

Most people on meeting me, presume that I work out all the time, or at least a lot -- rather than I am, one of the most sedentary persons, as writers/readers tend to be. Long bike trips have taught me the wisdom of conserving my energy and strength -- for those moments one is actually required to put it all out -- when life hangs in the balance. Until then, I don't think one has to prove it to others or even oneself all the time -- to have confidence in that capacity.

At June 23, 2006 12:29 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

A person asked if he should do this five-minute (one-minute)workout every day or whether it was all right to take a few days off:

The whole point of doing the one- and five- minute workouts are to bring the body up as quickly as possible to optimal functioning.

I can't imagine one thinking that, "Today, I just want be operating at half-capacity, be less than on the top of my game in living."

And in ensuring this optimal functioning, he is also providing the necessary conditions for growth and improvement -- and not something other and apart.

What one is doing presently, is providing the base for the next level of improvement -- that doesn't just happen as one big theoretical leap from what one is doing to what one wants or should be doing -- eliminating that whole division and contradiction of what is from from should be.

That is one of the great problems of contmeproary living -- this fragmentation (division)of the mind from the body, the being from the doing, the understanding from the action.


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