Monday, April 22, 2024

Making Something Out of Nothing

 In a world full of options and choices, one doesn’t have unlimited time, energy and resources, and must develop priorities — in order of what is most important to do. In a time of scarcity and dearth of that abundance, that might have been eating, drinking, travel, entertainment, bodybuilding and weightlifting without end — just because we could. However, even the most prolific practitioners often culminated in premature deaths, injuries, and health problems — and so one has to question whether just getting as big as possible, running as far as possible, lifting as much weight as possible, are productive ends in themselves.

If one could truly develop any aspect of their bodies and lives, what would they deem most important? The intelligent answer would be those qualities that make humans above all the previous iterations of life forms — which is the large brain, tool-making hand, and feet that enables an upright posture. That would be obvious to the anthropologists studying the evolution of species over time, and was particularly the topic of JJ Bronowski’s “The Ascent of Man.” From there, he describes the further evolution and development of humankind and what the ideal can be.

That brought us to the 20th century in which people like Abraham Maslow, inquired what is the ultimate “human actualization?” — and writers like Heinlein, Rand, Orwell, et al fleshed out in their literary creations. The underlying question was what is the ultimate human form and expression — of every individual life, which is the underlying theme of Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. That was the story of a human born on Mars and had no preconceived ideas of what the ideal form should be — and so he manifested it, or made it flesh.

There is a widespread belief that the heart pumps blood equally to all parts of the body — but obviously, more so to those areas actually exercised — which is the reason some people only manifest upper body development, while their legs languish. That would not be possible if the heart pumped that blood equally — even to those muscles and organs not used. Instead, the blood goes more to those muscles that are contracted and relaxed — just as the heart moves fluid. Where there is no such articulation at that joint, the blood and fluids remain in those tissues — and will immediately increase that flow, when it is exercised directly. That’s why people who do cardio exercises have small, atrophied muscles. Their hearts work harder and faster — but the rest of the musculature largely is inactivated.

That is the advantage weight-training has over most conventional exercise — it can be directed to develop the part of the body one thinks is so important — like the biceps and abdominals, etc. But the most efficient and economical way to enhance the flow (circulation) is to activate the joints at the extremities of the body — because that pushes the blood back towards the heart at that axis of activation. Those are the places where aging is most visible — even in aging bodybuilders. That’s where most of the aches and pains are experienced first — in the arthritis and neuropathies — where the circulation is the poorest, and not health-sustaining. Those are the casualties of disuse and aging.

It doesn’t have to be. One can activate all the muscles of the upper body by simply bending at the wrist. Likewise, one can activate all the muscles of the lower body by raising the heel or toe as much as possible. It doesn’t require weights to produce those contractions. The movement itself, is a contraction — and the farther one expresses those extremes, the more it engages all the supporting and connected muscles back towards the center of the body where all the muscles converge. The ancient Chinese called it dyantin — or simply, the center of the body — conveniently located next to the heart.

Nature is very smart in that way. It makes things economical and efficient — because it really wants us to live, thrive, and evolve to higher possibilities, rather than favor disfunction, disease and extinction. That is ultimately what “fitness” is all about — and not just doing what we’ve always done before with the predictable end results. It’s not that lying, sitting, standing are bad in and of itself — but there is no movement at the wrist, ankle and neck — that implies the rest. But if there is no movement beyond the shoulder and hip girdle, all those areas beyond it, don’t receive the exercise effect.

Knowing this, one can design an exercise program with heel raises, wrist curls and the turning of the head all the way to the left and right — and most inactive people will come alive in doing so. That is the easiest way just to get up in the morning. One does not need resistance or to make these movements any harder. The (lack of) movement is the resistance. It’s not that one isn’t moving their head to the left and right with 100 lbs of resistance — but they never move their head at all. That is most obviously true in what passes for the typical cardio exercise — the head and hands never move, and the feet shuffle as fast as possible — with little articulation. The proper foot articulation would be to raise the heels as high as possible — just like the ballet dancers — men and women. But all one needs to do is hold on to the back of a chair or countertop and merely raise their heels up as high as possible and down — as the superior leg movement. No special equipment required. No need to make the movement harder, or add more weight and resistance. The movement itself is exemplary.

It’s not that the calves, forearms and neck are the hardest muscles to develop — but that most don’t think to move at those joints — at all. But in so doing, unlike the disproportionate development many have because they concentrate on core muscles to the exclusion of the extremities, exercise seems to have no preventive effect against aging, atrophy and deterioration. It seems to be the obvious way to design a 21st century exercise program for health in longevity. You don’t want to lose your most valuable parts of yourself — while the heart is still the only muscle still ticking for decades longer.

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Both Sides Now

 A muscle can do one of two things: it can contract (shorten), or relax (lengthen) — and in concert and coordination with all the other muscles of the body, can produce the myriad of movements possible to the (human) body. Many ancient understandings and disciplines thought that muscles could only relax — or only contract — as their singular function, most exemplified by yoga on the one hand and competitive bodybuilders on the other extreme.

It is the alternation of one extreme to the other, that is the most efficient and beneficial — just as the heart functions for its critical role in circulation. It is not enough for the heart to just contract — and never relax (again). Or for the heart to relax and never contract (again). It is the alternation of one state to the other, that is the life-giving property of the heart — and the heart either contracts 100% and relaxes 100%, and if it only does 50% each way, one has major problems — if not imminent death. Hence, that is the significance of the heart rate, because one knows exactly what the quantity is as a constant — and not a variable.

Realizing this, the limit of any muscle is in its weakest position — rather than its strongest, and that was the rationale for varying resistance along that curve — if at all possible. While a weight (resistance) may remain constant, one uses all the muscles to orchestrate the minimal amount of load to any one muscle exclusively. That is to say that a major function of all the muscles, is to protect any one muscle from exclusively bearing the load — rendering it vulnerable to injury when contracting forcefully in its weakest, most vulnerable position.

The classic example is doing a standing barbell curl with too heavy a weight — causing a rupture at the biceps (tendon) insertion. In that variation of the exercise, the adjoining muscles are not in position and activation to protect the biceps — as they would be if the “finished” position was rotated so that rather than the elbow hanging down, the elbow is rotated to point towards the ceiling — resulting in a maximal contraction of the biceps because its supporting muscle is contracted as well.

All the muscles of the body are connected in that same way — that the contractile state of any one muscle, is dependent on the state of the muscles adjoining it. In knowing that, one can then conceive of the most efficient and effective to effect that state in all the muscles simultaneously, rather than have to do one specific exercise for each muscle — to say nothing of multiple exercises as well as sets for each muscle. The impracticality of that is that there is not enough time in the day to get to all one’s muscles to ensure full muscular development and a well-functioning body.

Fortunately, in understanding that the muscular state of any one muscle is dependent on the state of all the others, it then becomes a simple task to produce that one state or the other — rather than 600–800 different states of contraction/relaxation coordination throughout the body. Not surprisingly, the position of the head determines the muscular state for the rest of the body — which is the easiest to overlook, and with modern conveniences, unnecessary to move at all. The obvious downside of that is that movement dictates the flow to and from the heart. Those are the gates governing fluid flow through the body — particularly problematical in the well-known deterioration of the body beginning at the hands, feet and head — due to the inflammation caused by venous insufficiency in the return to the heart and central purifying organs of the body.

That is what muscular contractions from the extremities do — quite naturally, from most forms of traditional, productive, necessary movements — and why people who do them a lot, tend of be better developed, and more robust than those who seldom perform such movements. That essential “fitness” is hardwired into the evolution of every species — but modern conveniences have obviating their necessity over the last 50 years especially. That is the downside of labor-saving machinery — coinciding with the devolution of human health over that time period — when obesity and metabolic disorders have become the prime threat to human health in longevity.

The other side of the coin is just as bad — in those who remain hypertense all the time. The most extreme example of that are bodybuilders who remain contracted all the time — and never allow themselves to ever be seen “relaxed.” Relaxation is just as important as being able to maximize effort — and switching from one to the other as appropriate, is the healthy response to life — rather than the psychopaths constantly at war with everybody else — for no good reason. Predictably, they too live short, nasty, brutal lives — exacerbated by their behaviors and conditioning. The switch can be instantaneous.

Most conditioning is not done that way — instead thinking there is only one way to be — either all force, or all relaxation, and it is the ability to switch appropriately from one to the other, and all variations in between, that has the most survival value (fitness) — and how one wishes to condition themselves to be.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Easy Does It

 The worst advice on exercise is to make it harder all the time -- aiming for a point beyond one's present capacities, and never being satisfied with one has actually done.  That kind of "negative" conditioning will cause one to abandon all efforts -- when just a persistent modest effort, would make a huge difference.  That becomes a huge factor in later life -- when one is often defeated and discouraged before one does anything at all -- and falls further into despair and hopelessness as their fate from here on out.  Why does it have to be that way?

Few have asked that right question because they;ve ben conditioned from the start to accept that Commandment -- as though it embodied some truth, or great wisdom -- rather than headinng in the right direction in seeking the path of least resistance -- which is the better way,  Why would one voluntarily take the most perilous and laborious path -- when it would make more sense take the easy and safest route -- in just about everything?

So we have been conditioned in the wrong direction and least rewarding and productive path -- as though it was some kind of wisdom and great virtue.  Why shouldn't we pick the low hanging fruit first -- and then only if necessary, and driven to it, would be to climb the most precarious branches -- even as impressive as that may be.  In this manner, we have been conditioned wrongly -- by people who don't know any better, to take the difficult and impossible path, rather than the easiest to ensure their success and rewards.

Such a strategy is particularly important the older one becomes -- and how difficult every becomes.  They want to know the easiest and most productive way to do anything -- and particularly, the momentarily impossible.  It is by making the impossible possible, that one becomes more skilled, and not the impossible, even harder - at every turn.  That would be sheer madness -- and the problems of aging.

Hopefully, one learns all those lessons throughout life, which is their meaning in life -- and not to forget everything they once knew, and learned 50 years ago.  They want to live their best now -- and not 50 years ago, or in 50 years to come -- when they are no longer.  Things have to make sense right now -- and in every present moment.  Otherwise, one may never know, or can tell the difference.

The classic case is instructing a person who has fallen on the ground, how to get up.  On hearing this, a lot of exercise instructors tell one how not to fall or be in that condition in the first place -- as though that were helpful.  Classes that instuct one how to get up off the floor are actually readily available as beginner Yoga classes.  But if one is too weak for doing even that, how would one begin?

I do that most mornings by just moving my head as far to the left and then as far to the right -- while wondering how I'm going to eventually get up.  But shortly, I don't worry about it anymore, and move on to activating and articulating my hands to enhhance that circulation and feeling.  Finally, I articulate the full range foot movement from the pointed toe to the retracted -- which some exercise researchers have named the Soleus Pushup -- thinking that function is peculiar and unique to those muscles, rather than the characteristic of all muscle function in its role to keep the body healthy.

It's not optional, and good if one has the time and leisure -- but is the "categorical imperative" for every living being.  It's not just for when they are young, or can win accolades for it, but essential to their very being -- all one's life.  That is the future generation beyond just making it to that age -- in poor and deteriorating condition.  Even to get to that age in any condition used to be a milestone -- but now we know better -- that an unprecedented quality of life can still be actualized.  Just good enoiugh is no longer good enough -- or enjoyable for that matter, and we now think we are entitled to enjoy life -- and not just endure it for as long as we can hold out.

That was yesterday's story.  The future is making the best out of life in every moment one can -- including waiting for the microwave or washer to stop.  Or waiting at the bus stop.  Those are opportunities -- and not just wasted time -- unless making it so.  That is the easy way to do it -- rather than deciding what priority it should have over everything one hopes to do in that day -- and how to manage our time, energy and resources to achieve it.  Some even believe there is no other way but the strict adherence to schedule -- with no exceptions and deviations from the one true path -- for everyone.

But the beauty of life is that we all get to find out -- for ourselves, what is true -- and then share that knowledge to as many as are open to it.  That is particularly true if what one is doing, is not working -- and no amount of additional effort seems to be the answer.  One encounters that frequently in life -- that the answer is not the right answer that actually works.  And rather than arguing over who has the right answer, we need to find out what actually works -- and discard everything else.  Knowledge that doesn't work, is useless -- unless all one wants to do is claim to know the most -- whether it is true and actually works or not.  Many people are satisfied in that way, having all the answers -- but nothing works as they should. They think it is because they don't have enough "likes," as though it is just one big popularity contest, or who is in power to tell everybody else what to do or think.

Some leaders are even thinking that those who "wrong-think"  must be locked away from the public for the rest of their lives.  We thought that those were just the Dark Ages -- but it could be at any time and circumstances.  It's that kind of world -- playing out daily.

So the key observation I come away with is that mental functioning seems to come about because of of the poor neck development produced by the lack of circulation that comes with not turning one's head to use optimize one's awareness.  That distinguishes those who know what is going on around them -- from those trapped in their own thoughts and show no such proclivity to be aware of their surroundings.  Then that world further shrinks and implodes.  That is increasingly the fear of old age -- and everything it entails.  But how not to be like that equally obvious -- with the perspective of evolutionary time.  We are the way we are for a reason.

Understanding that is human nature and the way we work.  That is the key to living and aging well.  Without that simplicity of understanding, no amount of effort will produce the desired results.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Creating the Ultimate Stationary Bike

Whether designing an exercise program for a world-class athlete -- or the senior, disabled, even terminal -- the most important consideration is the design of what it was meant to do, and how best to optimize that functioning, and with this understanding of what it was meant for, achieve its best performance and maintenance (health).

Without this proper understanding, any amount of effort is likely to be unproductive and discouraging -- rather than the key to health and vitality -- for as long as they live, and not that they suffer a catastrophic event or injury, and swear off exercise for the rest of their lives -- with predictably disastrous results.

Exercise is the process by which one keeps their body in its optimal health and functioning -- and with seniors particularly, we see the lifelong impacts of what they've done -- good, bad, and indifferent.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist or brain surgeon to see this.  Most people do in the ordinary course of their day.  It's obvious even to the untrained and unindoctrinated -- which people are healthy and which people are not -- and if they are predatory and exploitative, they select the least able as their targets -- rather than the most formidable.  One does not need to be a human to understand those differences.  Every form of life makes those distinctions -- because it is immensely advantageous to do so, and their very life may depend on it.

That is the importance of looking around and making those discriminations -- rather than thinking that nothing makes a difference -- or should, and the results are all the same no matter what one does.  That's not a prescription for success in anything one does.  The successful make it their practice to observe the relationship of one thing to every other -- and determine the critical path of cause and effects -- from all the other co-incidences, that may or may not be related, or significant.

Chief among these is the thinking that expenditure of energy accounts for the results -- when clearly, the master practitioners of every activity, are those who are the most economical and efficient -- rather than those who are the most profligate in their expenditures -- as though they will always have unlimited time, energy and resources to burn.  Understandably, it matters more, the older they get -- rather than thinking as the novice does -- that those considerations will always be unlimited, and even multiplied, the more one wastes of it.

The world doesn't work that way.  It wants to achieve maximum efficiency and economy of resources -- and the whole design of living organisms is to achieve that effect.  There is a reason muscles contract from the insertion at the distal (furthest) end towards the proximal (closest to the center) or origin of that muscle, which then is inserted into the insertion of the supporting (proximal) muscle -- all the way back to the origin of all the muscles at the center next to the heart -- so in that way and manner, the blood and fluids can return to the central organs that purify and recycle those waste products for the next cycle of circulation.

If that movement doesn't occur, then the body is overcome with accumulated waste products (inflammation) and one see the typical bloating at the extremities of the hands, feet and head -- experienced as the neuropathies, arthritis, dementias in those tissues before the others.  That's why exercise can be so effective at (re)moving them -- because that is what the muscle contractions do.  The contractions at the extremities push the blood (fluids) forcefully back towards the heart -- which the heart cannot do no matter how hard or fast it is forced to work.  That is not its job: its job is just to pump the blood out to the extremities -- but if the extremities do not contract to force the residual blood and fluids out beforehand, it cannot go into those tissues -- because that is not how the system is designed to work.

Recently, some exercise researchers have proclaimed that the calf muscles are the second "heart" of the body because it does that.  But that is a misnomer because the heart is a very specialized and dedicated muscle that can do only one thing -- contract fully and relax fully -- which is the action of a pump.  While the skeletal muscles allow one to run, jump, throw, bat, look around, etc., if it contracts fully alternated with a full relaxation for a sustained period of time, it too acts as a pump.

Most people have been conditioned to think that it is resistance that produces the contraction and the relaxation -- instead of more properly, the range of muscle contraction and relaxation achieved in moving any muscle around its axis of rotation -- regardless if there is any resistance.  The resistance then, is provided by attempting to increase the range of movement in the contracted position -- and the relaxed position -- otherwise one could move infinitely in any direction they desired, which only a rare few seem to be able to do.

Such full range movements are particularly important at the axes of the joints at the furthest extremity, because it means that that entire area is being cleared and creating space for new nutrients that provide all the necessary requirements for health and growth -- but first getting rid of the accumulated toxins that arise from metabolic processes in addition to an accelerated load produced in exercise that requires the break down of cells to release energy and waste products.  Thus one experiences muscle fatigue and resulting soreness at an accelerated pace in recovery.

The peculiarity of modern exercise design is to eliminate the movements at the extremities in favor of movement at the more central joints (axes) of the shoulder and hip girdle -- and so the accumulation of these waste products are likely to continue throughout one's life -- despite all the exercise they are apparently doing -- that merely works their heart harder and faster, and moderately more at the shoulder and hip axes where there is considerably less than full range of articulation at those joints -- which is the reason they can persist in such movements virtually indefinitely.  

A full, and even extreme contraction, alternated by a full, and even extreme relaxation, will cause the muscle to fatigue and fail in about 50 repetitions -- in virtually everyone.  That is true muscular failure as opposed to a premature cardiovascular failure which causes the trainee to stop because they are not breathing but actually holding their breath, or breathing so shallowly as to effectively not be breathing -- which like the heart, requires the fullest contraction, alternated with a full relaxation -- because that is the requirement of the branch-like structures of the lungs -- as well as the circulatory system (blood vessels).  Because of that specific structure, the old has to be expelled first, for the new to come in -- because that is the environment that life on this planet evolved in.  Nature will not allow a vacuum to persist in this ecosystem.

In ancient times, it was thought that the important part in breathing was to draw the air in -- rather than as we realized, the compression (contraction) creates a vacuum which Nature in the atmospheric pressure will fill.  But in the old understanding of breathing, one was instructed to blow more air into a lung that was already mostly full -- but since the air must follow a fixed and systematic pathway, the old air never gets out.  And so one was better off just eliminating the mouth to mouth breathing disrupting the chest compressions in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) because chest compressions is the movement of air in and out he of the body (breathing) -- rather than trapping the air within the lungs -- which is counterproductive to what one hopes to be achieving.

So once we have a clear understanding of what is healthful and productive to the body, it is a simple matter of designing exercise to achieve those desirable effects. It is the full range articulation at the joints furthermost from the heart -- rather than closest to it that is the most healthful and productive -- which includes the critically important organs of the head, hands and feet which people famously fail at as the notable signs of aging specifically.  I suspect, for most, it does not matter that they can still finish a marathon -- if it looks like they should be dead -- or are in pretty good shape for a person who looks so old.

The reason they look so old is because of inadequate (suboptimal) blood flow to their most telling organs of the head, hands and feet -- in not addressing those problems directly -- and easily.  But it doesn't matter if one still has washboard abs or peaked biceps -- if the circulation from and to the most telling organs of the body, are not accounted for as the priority of where the circulation matters the most.  As for the heart, it doesn't need to be consciously programmed; it has evolved to work perfectly -- automatically.  

As a scientist, one tests the variables -- and not the constant -- and in that manner, knows how to make the biggest difference directly and expressly -- and not just hoping doing any ol' thing, will get them the desired results.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Are Bodyweight Exercises as Good as Weights?

 The presumption most people make is to think that bodyweight is zero — when in fact, many beginning exercisers are obese or overweight, and so at a great disadvantage doing only bodyweight exercises. The simplest example is doing a pullup; nine out of ten untrained people cannot do even one pullup — and so that exercise becomes prohibitive to them. But also, nine out of ten of the world’s strongest men competitors also cannot do even one pullup.

So in that simple case, a bodyweight exercise of this type, would be useless to them. The great advantage of weight-training equipment is not that one can add more weight, but can adjust the weight DOWN in that movement to whatever their present weakness is — and build up their strength from there by doing the movement properly, rather than doing it improperly and dangerously from the get-go, and not only not getting any benefit from their exercise, but dramatically increasing their risk for serious injury, or even death.

A few people can do bodyweight exercises productively — because they are genetically gifted in that way. Those are the gymnasts who have exceptional builds for it — but they are not the average person. Those people have a greater than normal power to weight ratio — just like the dancers who can stand on their toes — but everybody else would break their toes or necks attempting to do so.

Those are the prodigies in every human activity, and why it is important for every individual to find out what they are designed and built for — to have this competitive advantage in their undertakings and life. Finding that out accurately and honestly, requires one to lower the bar to where they can perform such movements expertly — as many times as they have to, because it is the precision of form that is the mastery no matter what the resistance and circumstances.

That’s why the world champion lifters will start off with just the bar — and if they do that precisely, will go up in weight — but it is counterproductive just to slap on more weight doing who knows what, and wonder why an injury puts an end to that manner of training/activity. In weight-training, the most productive parts are the beginning and the ending positions — which are avoided by most trainees because that is the truly hard part to get right. That is the full relaxation changing into the full contraction — instead of maintaining a midrange contraction and leveraging the weight up and then letting gravity lower the weight down. We know gravity works very well.

But what we really wish to know — is the state of greatest muscular relaxation, and the state of greatest muscular contraction — that only the heart muscle must act in that way, and because of it, performs the critically important work of pumping blood out to the extremities. When the skeletal muscles act in that way, they pump the blood and fluids back towards the heart — and that rate of flow (effectiveness) is determined by the difference between the relaxed state and contracted state.

When lifting overly heavy weights (including one’s own bodyweight), the muscle has to maintain at least that level of contraction — and if there is no relaxation phase, the muscle will fail rather than persist indefinitely sufficient to complete a task. That is the value and manner of work — and not just one and done, in as sloppy a style as one can get away with. And though many will think it doesn’t matter precisely what one is doing, in everything, that is all that matters — and distinguishes success from failure.

Thus the importance of using as light a weight as one feels comfortable to enable relaxation — is that they can go into complete relaxation, and then extend the range of that movement beyond the normal limits of the bone on bone lockout — that also cannot be accessed unless the weight (resistance) is light enough to allow that extended range of movement. That is largely what differentiates the prodigy from everyone else — their range is unparalleled, rather than their effort. In fact, they make every movement seem easy and effortless — rather than looking as hard as possible. That is the way one is conditioning to be — all one’s life.

For that reason, bodyweight exercises are usually prohibitive — while extremely light weights allow the fullest range from contraction to relaxation — and why the eccentric contraction (lowering the weight slowly) will result in increasing muscle soreness — because thee muscle is not allowed to relax — but maintains its contraction while necessarily holding one’s breath. This does not allow work to be performed aerobically (with breathing), but causes premature failing of the cardiovascular system rather than a neuromuscular failure. That is, one stops because one no longer has sufficient air to continue — because one has disrupted the breathing pattern that allows air to move in and out as required/needed.

Competitive bodybuilders frequently pass out by maintaining constant contraction — which constricts breathing, and looks tense. Most physique photos are taken in this hyper-contracted state — whereas in earlier times, muscularity was expressed in the relaxed muscular state — as idealized in the sculpture of the ancient Romans and Greeks. Muscles convey this natural flow and development.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

If You Have a Problem, Don't Do Something Else

 It seems simple and obvious -- that if there is a problem, one should prioritize the solving of that -- rather than going on to do something else, because if not addressed as the priority, it will negatively impact everything else one does -- even rendering them incapable of doing anything else.

That fundamental response to life should form the core of all one's learning and knowledge -- and not that everything is equally worth knowing and doing -- because in the end, everything will come out the same.  Of primary importance is the proper sequence of what and how things are done.  That is what we have formalized as the protocols of what must be done -- even if they are reformulized from time to time.  But until then, that was the best we knew then -- until we knew better.  That is how human progress and evolution happens.

That is the basis of knowledge -- and not that we began with perfect knowledge that has eroded with time and experience.  In this regard, the understanding of circulation is still in its infancy -- but it underlies life as its essential necessity.  When circulation ceases, all life processes it supports ceases -- and so does life for that individual because circulation is the means with which that individual interacts and is fed by its environment -- from air, water, atmospheric pressure, toxicity, enhancements, and of course, all those around them -- as the transactions and exchanges of daily living.

Most of us take all that for granted -- unless we are suddenly deprived of that constant supply -- but far more likely is the many ways we voluntarily isolate and cut oneself off from that supply -- in our life choices and daily habits.  Far and away the most common in contemporary lives, is how we immobilize ourselves in our daily (constant) activities -- which we frequently describe as the sedentary life -- but if we dive more deeply into the fundamental problem, it is not so much the sitting that is bad, but the lack of movement and articulation at the neck, wrists and ankles that are critical to the understanding of circulation problems -- particularly at the head, hands and feet, and their subsequent functioning.

Thus when I had occasion to interact with lifeless people to see if I could help restore movement and thus liveliness in them -- unlike the physical therapists who had much more demanding requirements of them -- I simply wanted to know if they could move anything at all, or were responsive in the least (and not the most demanding) ways.  That is the juncture at which one determines whether further efforts can be meaningful and productive, or whether nothing makes a difference anymore -- despite how loudly one can turn up the volume on these demands.

A favorite activity of the inactive, is to stare at a television all day -- requiring not even eye movement -- much less head movement, and naturally, without that movement, the muscles and other tissues atrophy -- because it is dependent upon that circulation, which is minimal because there is no change of state in the muscles of that area.  They always remain flaccid, and because of that, there is no flow -- which is greatly effected by muscular contractions as the underlying recommendation for exercise.  But it is not enough just to make the heart work harder and faster that enhances the circulation, as it is that specific voluntary muscles and their contraction determine the effectiveness of the work of the heart.

That is self-evidently why people who only work the heart muscle harder and faster to the exclusion of all else, don't develop the muscular propensity of those who realize that the most important function and work of every muscle is to mimic the heart in this pumping action -- rather than the lifting of weights, running, jumping, throwing and hitting, so that in the design of the ultimate exercise program, that would be far and away of primary importance and consideration.  This is particularly important in developing fitness maintenance for space programs, or other extraordinary conditions in which the conventional and traditional thinking on such matters are ineffective and fail utterly.

The important "work" performed is not the lifting of weights, or the running of miles, but the effectiveness of optimally circulating the blood and other fluids to sustain optimal health within the body.  Every other consideration becomes moot.  That is where conventional and traditional thinking on exercise fails entirely -- in this absence of resistance -- in the conventional way we are used to thinking about it.  But obviously, life can continue and be maintained inside of the body -- where there is still "resistance," but that inertia is caused by the lack of flow, and what produces it, is the contraction of the voluntary muscles of the body.

But with 600-800 muscles in the body, where would one begin (prioritize)?  Logically, it would be to prioritize the most important organs of the body -- which is the hands, feet and head -- which most take for granted as being adequately and automatically provided for.  However, they generally have to ignore or deny the deterioration in the functioning of those quintessentially human organs as the first signs that something is less than optimal in the functioning of that body.  It is just assumed that that is where the deterioration might begin -- as the well-established pattern of what we call "aging."  But rather than nothing can be done about it, the primary improvement of such areas should be the first we think of to optimize the circulation, development and even growth (improvement) throughout life -- rather than being an afterthought, and inessential.

In more primitive times, it was more obvious as the most essential -- and not simply the ornamental and cosmetic.  But the interesting thing is that if functioning and development precedes from that primary importance, the rest of the bodily structures are supportive of that development -- as the well-proportioned physiques of the past -- rather than the arbitrary development one sees today as the fashionable ideal -- that with time and age, becomes increasingly irrelevant, and even preposterous.

The small organ of the heart cannot force blood through the capillaries (fine blood vessels) -- if it is already full.  But muscular contractions at the extremities, will forcefully propel blood and fluids out of tissues in the direction it has to go -- back towards the center of the body.  That is the vascular part of the cardio(vascular) part of the equation that is just as essential to give meaning to the circulation.  To measure only the heart as the effectiveness of the circulation, is tantamount to placing the thermostat in the furnace -- and not at the farthest reaches one hopes to provide heat to.  But rather than devising a measuring device to observe that, one can simply observe the range of motion that is expressed at the axes of movement at the wrist, ankles, and neck -- and the resulting contraction and relaxation of those muscles immediately manifested.   

That is, one doesn't have to wait a year or even six months to witness -- but is apparent in every individual no matter what shape they think they are in -- and also apparent, to those otherwise considered "fit," but deficient in those specific developments -- and functioning.  Just making the heart work harder and faster is not going to solve the problem.  They have to specifically optimize the flow to where it is deficient and deteriorating, otherwise, the surgeon could just operate on ANY organ, and wonder why it does not solve the problem -- even though the operation was a success.  Life does not "average out" that way -- so that anything is as good as any other thing.  One should be sure they are measuring the right things -- and not just what is easiest and most convenient to measure -- or most profitable.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Doing the Most Good -- Where it Most Matters

 Optimizing the circulatory effect is how the body keeps itself healthy and functioning — by getting rid of the metabolic waste products first — to produce space for the new nutrients. That’s why those who exercise produce better health and beyond that, enables prodigious growth. That should be the rudimentary understanding of life processes.

We recognize that in the ABCs of First Aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). If there is no circulation of the vital fluids, then that person will imminently die — and the first to go will be the brain — because it is critically dependent on the flow of oxygen to the brain — which is effected by pressure differences caused by the contraction (compression) of the chest and lungs. Then when that pressure is released the space (vacuum) created will allow the higher atmospheric pressure to enter — and those are the conditions all life forms have evolved in. That is the greater environment and context of life — that no theory, gimmick, nutritional supplement, exercise apparatus can overrule.

In speaking of “exercise” as being the fabled elixir of health and life, what is frequently overlooked is this importance of the circulation (flow) to the brain (head), hands and feet — resulting in those organs and areas being the first to go — in most aging and deteriorating people. Those are the obvious and most visible “markers” of the underlying health and vitality of any individual — whether there is range of movement at the axis of the joints at those furthest extremities — because they really imply the rest.

Whether throwing or hitting a baseball, tennis ball, basketball, etc., most people fail to note that the turning of the wrist determines the success of the outcome. Likewise, the success at running, jumping, climbing, etc., is determined by the range of movement at the ankle — and not the knee, hips, or heart. Those are more obvious, but much less noticed and apparent to most is that the head movement is critical to the functioning of all the head senses — requiring one to turn their head to place their eyes, ears and nose in the proper position to optimize their functioning and usefulness. That is how a person knows what is going on around them — and not from the information they get from screens and books — not requiring them to turn their heads for that information.

Thus the neck muscles famously atrophy for lack of that engagement and functioning — which affects its circulatory effectiveness — because that specific contraction of the neck muscles as seen in the most prolific performers, can no longer be taken for granted — but must be given the highest priority when it is understood how movement at that joint, directly determines the flow. Thus, no matter how much attention is given to maintaining and developing the biceps and the abdominal muscles, or even the heart (which is an autonomic function), the most critical organs of the human body will be the first to atrophy and deteriorate from this misplaced attention and effort — even diverting those resources away from where they would do the most good.

And thus we have the familiar pattern of aging and atrophying and the neck, hands and feet in most older people — even as they work their larger muscles more — at the hip and shoulder girdle, and sometimes not even that in the case of most cardio machines that require nothing from an upper body movement. It is then pure heart action — which is automatic and appropriate to whatever the voluntary muscles require — and doesn’t need this exclusive attention. The failure to move is occurring at the furthest extremities — which is the problem, and no amount of doing the wrong thing, will rectify or improve. It will in fact, make the imbalance and disproportion worse.

That is precisely the problem of older bodybuilders in competition. Most invariably have atrophied lower legs, lower arms, and pencil (dental floss) necks — which would not happen if they only developed their lower legs (calf), lower arms (forearms), and neck muscles because that development requires the development of all the muscles proximal to the center of the body — but doesn’t happen if the range of movement doesn’t extend beyond the movement at the shoulders or hips. Why a person would want to do that is the reason exercise becomes less effective as one ages — when properly conceived, it should be doing them the most good — where it most matters.