All of life is founded in the electrical transfer of energy within metabolic reactions . In order to create an electrical current (current meaning “running, lively“) there must be a positive and negative charge present. With a balanced charge between atoms there is no movement, no life. Therefore, movement is the principal characteristic of life.
LIFE IS MOVEMENT.
The ancient tradition of Taoism recognizes this principle of movement. From the eternal Tao sprang Yin (negative) and Yang (positive). The entirety of life is just the interaction between the Yin and Yang polarities. You will notice the concept is the same as the more modern understanding of electromagnetism. Regardless of your preference in words to describe the interaction, the fact remains that for there to be life there must be an exchange of energy–there must be movement.
If you want to live with vitality, then, simply remain active.
Before we address the subject of movement specifically however, it is important to discuss posture. If you engage in the right kinds of physical activities with poor posture, then you can cause great short and long-term damage to your body.
It is common for people to engage in activities and work that places excessive postural strain on their bodies. For example, it is common for those who work extensively with computers to develop rounded shoulders. Over time, this can inhibit your full range of motion and lead to chronic pain.
To correct postural imbalances, it is important to release the chronically contracted muscles through stretching and strengthen the antagonist muscle groups. Alluding back to the above example, a person should stretch their chest and strengthen their back throughout their time working to realign their shoulder posture.
The best way to analyze your posture is to view your body in standing position from the front and sides in the mirror [3,4]. Just use the example in the illustration to the right to compare to your own poster to see where muscle imbalances exist and what corrective measures need to be taken. It is also important to assess sitting posture for dysfunction.
After assessing your static posture it is helpful to assess your dynamic posture, or your posture in common movement patterns such as walking and running. Here and here are videos that explore how to properly walk and run.
Range of Motion (ROM)
Next, it is wise to address the subject of the capacity for movement your joints allow. Again, if you engage in the right kinds of activities but with poor mobility, you can still cause injury, chronic inflammation, or long-term joint degradation.
For a comprehensive understanding of your body’s normal range of motion, please explore the following images:
To correct ROM imbalances, follow the same prescription as was given for postural imbalances above. Also, simply keep in mind: to maintain your bodies full range of motion and, as a result, usually healthy posture as well, just routinely move in your bodies full range of motion. Circle the joints that can be circled, bend the joints that can be bent, and twist the joints that can be twisted. This is known as dynamic stretching, and it is so effective because it strengthens and lengthens muscles and connective tissue simultaneously.
How To Move
The body has 7 basic movement patterns that it can execute . To maintain optimal health, it is wise to engage in each of them routinely. That will promote muscle balance throughout your body, joint mobility/stability, and proper posture.
The 7 movements are as follows:
- gate (a combination of any of the aforementioned)
There are also 4 basic qualities within all of these movements:
- strength- the ability to withstand stress.
- flexibility- the ability to bend easily or modify position.
- stamina- the ability to endure prolonged stress.
- balance- the ability to evenly distribute weight to enable stability.
When combined, these basic qualities produce more complex qualities like: power, agility, speed, quickness, and coordination.
It is enlightening to know that these qualities, while nurtured in our bodies, are also being nurtured in our mind and spirit. Ask a long distance runner how they are able to accomplish what they do. They will not tell you that they execute a series of physiological processes within the body. They will tell you that they have developed the mental capacity to endure through the prolonged stress of running, to push through “the wall”. As the mind develops these qualities, the body soon follows. Therefore, exercise is a wonderful tool to refine and develop human character or the human soul.
Yoga and other calisthenic disciplines are the most efficient means to nurture these qualities because they train each harmoniously. In one series of motions, you can strengthen, lengthen, develop balance, and develop stamina. However, for more advanced development of each quality, weight training, longer endurance training, and supplemental mobility work can be practiced.
After knowing what movements you can train, it’s important to know the quality of the training you can also do. Essentially, your body can produce energy for muscular work in three different metabolic pathways or processes. These three processes yield different quality of outputs in work performed. The first, ATP – PC, is high intensity exertion for a very short duration [around the first 10 seconds of exertion]. The next, Glycolysis, can produce less intensity with a little longer duration of exertion [from about 10 seconds to 2 minutes]. Both of those pathways are anaerobic, meaning they do not require oxygen to produce energy. The last pathway is, fittingly enough, Oxidation. This pathways allows for low intensity, high duration exertion, slowly building at the onset of exertion to being the main source of energy production after about 2 minutes of exertion[6,7,8].
The Ideal Program
There are so many exercise programs and methodologies in existence. There is yoga, pilates, power lifting, olympic lifting, crossfit, gymnastics, HIIT, bicycling, skateboarding, hiking, etc. The list goes on and on. But it is important to remember, no one is the best compared to the rest. As should become evident as your navigate the material on this website, and as was strongly implied after just exploring the metabolic pathways: it is about balance and diversity.
As a matter of fact, look at the human compared to all of the other animals. We aren’t the fastest, strongest, most enduring, or most flexible. But, we are the most well rounded. So, to nurture optimal physical health and keep your exercise fun and fresh, try to incorporate as many disciplines as possible. In time, you may create an entirely unique program that will optimally meet your bodies needs.
- regularly move in all the ways your body was designed to.
- develop strength, flexibility, stamina, and balance in your body and your mind.
- keep your exercise program balanced and varied.
- to explore these concepts more, and to look at examples of exercises to do, please download the Movement Manifesto document here.