Sunday, September 26, 2010

Maintaining Muscle (Memory)

If you exercise your capacity to do something on a fairly frequent basis, the body retains that capacity (memory) and readiness to do so -- but how much repetition is required to maintain that memory, is grossly overstated.

Obviously, you don't require repeating the combination to your locker or password 1,000 times a day, in order for one to retain that capacity to do so -- when in fact, just doing so once a day, would be sufficient for most people to have that memory etched in their minds.

The problem starts, when one doesn't access that memory for several days, then weeks and months, and shortly thereafter, one begins to lose the memory that one even had that capacity anymore -- even though the underlying capabilities are still there.

And that is the reason for "conditioning" and "education" to require frequent drills to maintain that readiness and capability as its essential responses. However, if those responses (memories) are too numerous, and repeated overly long, then one has the problem of having to search through too many memories to find the right one (response), and if it has been drilled into one excessively much, the proper stimulus may initiate no appropriate response -- other than that it is what one always does anyway, no matter what the challenge -- which is indistinguishable, from no response. It is just compulsive and obsessive behavior -- which is more likely what one has conditioned oneself to be, rather than a truly "fit" person, ready to respond appropriately to the challenge (problem) at hand.

We recognize that as the "knee jerk" response, of those who no matter what, is triggered to the identical and predictable response, every time, no matter what -- because that has been their conditioning (education) -- and usually, they have known (been taught) no other way possible.

Then, every subsequent thought, action, and deed -- becomes the repetition of this one same action, even when it is obviously an inappropriate and inadequate response to the challenge -- which is usually that although they are doing more of the same thing that isn't working, they refuse to believe there can be any other possibility -- and are conditioned to reject it as soon as they can identify it as such.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Stepping Into the 21st Century

As the GP commenter below points out, running is especially bad for those who are overweight, previously injured (from running), or are not ideally built for that activity -- which pretty much eliminates large swaths of the population, so that we easily get down to the 5% who will experience no problems running but will probably experience pain and discomfort that will discourage most people from continuing for long.

That's why even most champions in their sports have to eventually retire from it entirely eventually, and take up activities that haven't suffered that irreparable damage. In sporting activities, generally those who participate are the 5% of the population favorably disposed to that particular activity, and from that gene pool, they select the further top 5%, to arrive at the 99.9% individual, which is largely what athletic competition at the highest levels are.

One notices at the Tour de France, they all have practically the identical body type, which is not ordinarily seen except in that mass gathering of similarly disposed people. Among top marathon runners, the world class also have a very predetermined genotype that makes them not only suitable for this event, but they don't even seem to be breathing hard at the end.

On the other hand, the many others who are not so gifted, are torturing themselves just to finish -- because try as they might, they don't have that makeup, but with running or walking, it's not as definitive as the "uneven bars," and so the differences are not as obvious except to a well trained eye.

But that is what world class trainers can detect in any group of people -- the 5% before they even start to train them. They don't walk into a roomful of children and select them randomly for further training.

And it is especially true that running is not the best activity for those wanting to get into their best shape -- usually beginning from a grossly overweight condition. That should be obvious even to those who advocate running -- and if not, one should seek alternative advisers because that's why there are different activities and disciplines, and personal styles.

A movement that works for such people is to shift their weight from side to side, and one foot to another, and with the foot not supporting the weight, articulate either a toe raise or heel raise, which action will shorten (contract) ALL the muscles of the leg -- while requiring no knee or hip movement, and producing no impact from a foot striking the ground with all their bodyweight.

Similarly, one can create that same effect making a fist and then rotating that fist palmward or knuckleward, to produce that same shortening of all the arm/torso muscles -- without requiring vigorous movement at the elbow and shoulders which are the vulnerabilities similar to the knee and hip.

Finally, one should daily practice the full range head movement as far as one can move the head to the left, and then as far to the right, producing a torso rotation (torsion) to ensure muscular development of the neck and blood flow to the brain, both which are the markers of aging and overall body deterioration which traditional exercises like running do not address because there is no movement (directed circulation/neuromuscular stimulation) expressly to those critical vulnerabilities of the human body.

We can and should design the state of the art in movements -- instead of assuming that the most primitive, is the highest possibilities of that expression and articulations. We need to step into the 21st century -- and not simply fight the lions in the coliseum.

This then, makes the benefits of exercise even accessible to the weakest -- even the bedridden and wheelchair bound -- rather than putting them there.

Friday, September 03, 2010

"My Body Is Killing Me"

Only about 5% of any population sample is well-designed and suited for any particular activity -- whether that be running, gymnastics, weightlifting, bodybuilding, yoga, swimming, etc., and usually what pain or great difficulty tells one, is that they may not be ideally suited for that activity, and should consider others.

What is always amusing to hear is the number of people who take up some kind of exercise activity to cure a back problem, or improve a glaring weakness, and then after two years -- somebody asks them if they've ever considered entering the Mr/Miss Universe contest, because they hadn't realized how extraordinarily well their bodies had responded to their modest efforts for improvement.

The 5% rule is pretty universal and reliable at detecting talent in any activity -- and will cause a lot of frustration, depression and waste of time and energy for those who are not gifted, or in many cases, even well disposed for that particular activity.

This is most often the case of people being advised that running is the best activity for humans -- while the human body is not well-designed for running at all, or we'd have four legs, and hooves instead of feet. Most people learn quickly that gymnastics are not as easy as a few people can make it look -- and while they're invariably muscular and well proportioned, they are no competition against monkeys and apes.

The parts of the body that is problematical for exercisers, are the weakness of the human body, which more assault on, will not render it stronger but actually speed its degeneration and even destruction -- and are encouraged to do so by people who subscribe to a belief that what doesn't kill them, may make them stronger, but in the majority of the cases, will kill them or cripple them for life.

But that is not necessarily the problem with every activity, and also, one can design movements to strengthen and optimize one's own strengths and weaknesses, without the generalization that running is good for everybody -- or bad for everybody.