Sunday, August 26, 2012

The problem with QiGong, Tai-chi, yoga, (hyper)stretching.

Some exercise modalities focus on the relaxation phase of "movement," while others focus on the contraction (impact) end of it -- but the real value and power of movement, is the ability to move from fullest contraction, to fullest relaxation -- and not simply relaxation to hyperstretching, or contraction to isometric contraction (without intermittent relaxation).

The thing I've observed in your movement practices and routines, is the lack of dynamic or robust muscular contraction -- which may be a deliberate avoidance on your part -- as the parameters of movement of QiGong or some types of tai-chi.  That's why in the discussion of tai-chi, it is usually pointed out, that there are two types of  it -- one being the constant slow movement that avoids the extreme ranges of movement (contraction or full relaxation) but always maintains a constant low-level tension, and the dynamic form of tai-chi that includes a dynamic contraction characterized by acceleration and deceleration of movement.

This is important because not only does a full range of movement produce a dynamic robust) contraction, but that contraction also produces a compression within an enclosed volume (which is the tissues), that moves fluids from the high pressure area created by muscular contraction at the extremities -- towards the heart and filtering organs of the body at the center -- which reduces the buildup of such toxins as calcium buildup in those areas of poorest circulation -- which the Achilles tendon and feet are famous for.

Although my father had practiced slow movement tai-chi all his life, that did not confer on him immunity -- from the deterioration at the extremities, most notably his head and brain -- and so one of the most important movements I realized, was that the extreme range of movement of the head, automatically produced that contraction -- but he never moved his head anymore, and why I realized it was a priority to maintain that range of movement, and was so gratified at recently seeing a 101 year old woman who basically had minimal neck muscle development, show shocking muscular development in just a week of practice -- obviously.

Every time I show you my movements, and watch you copy them, I notice that you do not push on through the extremes of the range of movement in the fully contacted position, nor do you go to full relaxation -- but maintain the constant tension of slow-movement tai-chi and qi-gong, which I find exhausting to do because it requires that constant tension -- that many are not aware of.  To me, it is similar to the constant tension of carpel tunnel syndrome -- which creates its own problems, which sounds like the problem you are having in your foot from that constant position maintained in driving -- just like a person can experience, operating a computer too.  It damages the nerves with an unvarying constant tension -- that one is not aware of.

The full relaxation would obviously not be holding any pose or position but complete collapse into relaxation, before attaining the fullest, complete range of contraction -- which is what I do.  I completely relax, after hitting the peak contraction -- and so am only concerned with two points of the movement, rather than the 99% of the movement most people are.  I don't care how one moves from point 1 to point 2 and back -- but that is what many traditional forms of "movement" are preoccupied with -- notably slow-form tai-chi and qigong -- as far as I can tell.

And because people do not achieve this fullest, robust contraction -- the tissues are not flushed completely, causing this buildup of calcium deposits and other toxins to remain in the tissues (extremities), and the body to further retain fluids (water) to dilute its effects, which is the bloated (swelling) look of edema and gout.  It doesn't matter that one has a lot of activity in the midrange of movement -- because those extremes of peak muscular contractions are never attained -- which is the maximum compression of the tissues as the objective of the movement that flushes and optimizes the circulation process not limited to the blood but all the fluids, gases, solids, etc.

So, many people who are quite active, also don't achieve the sleek look of those whose movements cause these powerful and stimulative compressions of their body to shape their body in the way they would like to -- which would make a lot of sense as the direct objective or one's movement practices.  That is what I design to do -- directly and explicitly.

What I would suggest for you to do is to do two movements while lying in bed -- which are the two variations of the straight arm pullover, in one version starting with the arms behind the head, and moving forward to the other extreme down towards your hips, using head, hands and feet movement in one direction for 50 repetitions and then 50 repetitions in the other -- aiming for those complete, powerful, dynamic  contractions you deliberately avoid and eschew -- while placing no weight on your knees and other parts of your body that cause you great pain bearing weight.

As you bend your wrist with your hands closed, you open your hands as you bend (rotate) your hand -- which counteracts the contraction that would be achieved if your hand was tightly closed, and contracted even further with the bending of your wrist.  Observe this in yourself and movement. You do not allow movement to continue in the direction of further (extreme) contraction -- but offset it in some other movement -- like the opening of the hand as you bend at the wrist, or bend at the knees, rather than moving further at the foot -- giving the illusion of movement, but not moving at the axis of rotation that is meaningful to do so.

There's a very direct and powerful physiological reason as to what is happening in the body with movements that are self-evident in this way.  That is what I think you need to practice on -- and those movements, correct the problems of the lack of proper (full-range) movement. 


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