Friday, May 15, 2009

Range of Motion: An Instant Classic

Most people are used to experiencing pain from movement, particularly as they age, which invariably leads them to avoid such movements, reducing their range of motion in movements, until finally at the end of their health, they hardly move at all. That, obviously, is a very unhealthy and disempowering conditioning that takes place over many years. To combat that effect, some take the radical approach of forcing ranges of movement, that speeds the injury and abandonment of movement in such an area -- which is also not helpful and productive.

One of the movements I noticed when taking a shower, was a slightly painful feeling every time I went to wash my back holding a piece of soap -- reaching one extent from the top, and the remaining areas from under the shoulders. That movement became the inspiration for the development of one of the great shoulder girdle/rotation and arm movements it is actually useful to maintain, and extend one's range if at all possible.

That exercise would be to make the rhythmic alternation of arms and hands attempting to touch each other in the back -- as a very simple movement that done for a count of 50, will maintain the integrity and strength of the shoulder girdle and rotation, all one's life -- while producing the awesome physical development one usually associates with long hours of lifting weights overhead -- usually with fully straightened arms to maintain that position for at least a recognition of control.

Although that is commonly done in strength competitions, the question of whether it is an actually useful movement to learn and master, is questionable. Most people just abandon such movements as they age -- largely because it produces injury and unnecessary wear and tear on that joint -- moved in that way, under a heavy load -- while possible, and eventually not attempted at all in later years because of self-limiting pain.

An extremely useful alternative to developing those muscles and maintaining that structural strength, is the rotation of the bent arms fore and aft -- with the objective to at least touch one's fingers in the back -- which most people will not come close to doing, but that is the approximation and the intent -- of achieving that full range. Of course, people with extreme flexibility in that area, will be able to touch their fingers, and for those, then a point further up the hands of each, would indicate increasing range of motion.

One notes that the similarity to muscle contractions achieved through conventional movements for that development are greatly exceeded -- with every increment of that range of movement, for which it is unnecessary to add more weight and resistance (and how could one?). The movement itself, provides its own resistance -- the further one moves to the greatest extent of one's range. The muscles must be contracted to their greatest extent -- as the natural design of that useful, voluntary movement -- enabling many others.

I think such a movement probably best illustrates the paradigm of the new concept of exercise to maintain and strengthen useful movement -- and not merely become proficient at the arbitrary ones that will invariably be abandoned because they serve no simple, useful purpose. And if one can do that, fitness, conditioning and exercise becomes much more meaningful and relevant to daily living -- and not that one has to run a marathon every day, week, month or year -- to ensure that they can and prove to themselves and others, their fitness levels.

People who are very observant, notice the range of movement as the proper assessment of each individual's vitality, alertness and capabilities -- in the quite ordinary and extraordinary movements they make doing common, ordinary things. They do not need to design tests to measure that impression and impact -- to know that as a "fact."


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