Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Positive Approach to Exercise (Life)

Recently, I had a whim to observe and participate in a “senior” exercise class, and later in the day and more severely in the next, I noticed I had pulled a muscle just in doing one of those innocuous “senior”-friendly movements.

On relaying that information to one of the regular participants, his reflexive reaction was that it was because I didn’t do those movements regularly -- as the reason for my slight injury, without considering for the moment, that such a movement causes an injury, in an otherwise fit and extremely flexible person.

The most obvious culprit, was the directive to touch one’s toes before swinging one’s hands overhead -- which immediately puts one in an injurious position that one would never be in ordinarily, because of the risk of injury. It would not be the proper beginning position to do any lifting (or any other work).

If one gets into such an extended hyper-stretch, one should especially not explode out of it into another position, but such a hyper-range is harmless if there is no violent movement (contraction) out of it. That is the proper role of such stretching movements -- to fully relax, and further relax -- and NOT bounce dynamically out of it, because when the muscles are greatly relaxed (hyperextended), it offers no additional support and strength to the structures, which is a great part of the function of muscles, even beyond providing movement. (Hyperextension is not to be confused with simply being relaxed -- which is about halfway between hyperextension -- yet that is precisely the range in which most exercise machines enable/measure movement!)

Most people are not aware of this supporting function of muscles because the only emphasis is placed on the action to provide movement in an easily visible and measurable manner. That’s why it often mystifies people that an adept of many Eastern physical culture practices can seem to do something, while apparently not doing anything. All the action is within the body -- as opposed to being obvious and easily visible externally. That is true whether there is external work being produced, or merely, internal “work” -- but it is this internal work that builds the body, and not the external movement of weights, balls and other trajectories.

When people are clear on this, maintaining and ensuring the health and well-being of the body and its functioning, is really quite simple and easy to effect. It is the confusion and diversion to the importance of the external movement and its measurement that becomes counterproductive to one’s efforts. Therefore, much of what one may do to maintain their health, is the source of their injuries and problems.

If I did not do the swinging toe touches, I would not have such an injury (and that should be a requirement in the design of proper movement), rather than the unwitting insightful observation, that the reason I did have an injury, was “because I didn’t do it regularly.”

With proper exercise, the risk of injury should rightfully be reduced to zero -- rather than increasing. Many conditioned in the mentality of punishing their bodies and selves for the proper motivation and effort, do nothing else until their bodies “give-up,” and declare “no more,” and one retires to a life of complete avoidance of all productive activity and the all-too-telling “human blimp” appearance.

That is easily avoidable by understanding proper conditioning techniques -- rather than working against that understanding -- even under the personal supervision of "certified" trainers.


Post a Comment

<< Home