“The body knows nothing of muscles, only of movement.” – Karel Bobath
Karel Bobath makes a valid point, as movement, or a lack there of, determines the stature of our bodies. Fundamentally, the role of motor behavior is to give us the ability to move and function, even amongst highly skilled activities, while maintaining adequate posture and equilibrium.
Movement alone has a direct effect on the synovial fluid in the body by transforming it from a thick gel to a viscous liquid. At this very point, the liquid is able to perform the job as a joint lubricator and friction reducer. When the body is relaxed, or not in a state of movement, the synovial fluid remains essentially inactive, thus forgoing joint lubrication and friction reduction. However, at what point does routine movement take on the title of exercise?
Exercise. An impactful word with a variety of meanings. Certain individuals live and breath exercise. Some partake every now and again. And others, well others merely dream of the possibility of thinking of doing it. Exercise that is.
Exercise is said to improve longevity, mental stability, has restorative and rehabilitative properties, increases neurological function, ensures proper posture and breathing mechanics, decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as deems accommodating to overall heart and lung health. Oh. And promotes adequate sleep. My all time favorite component of exercise.
But wait. Don’t you go and get excited just yet. Said list is merely a potential. A potential outcome of benefits for those who take the time to exercise and more importantly, for those who use that time to execute the exercise ideally.
I know. What on earth do I mean by ideally?
There are many types of exercise designed for many different people. Some forms of exercise stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, while other types stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. However, regardless of which nervous system we intend to facilitate, exercise is only beneficial if it’s therapeutic, i.e. corrective, i.e. functional, i.e what is the end result you intend to meet? Are you in pain? Are you over weight, under weight? Are you the perfect weight and simply want to improve the status of your birthday suit? Are you stressed? Are you none of the above and just want to exercise for the sake of exercising? Are you tired of this list of questions?
Whichever question you unassertively nodded yes to, the point is, we all venture throughout our lives, proceed about our daily habits and routines with an array of structural issues and musculoskeletal instabilities, reigning from detrimental to acute or even minimal. Some of us are tactfully aware of these repercussions, while the other portion of us will go through life never meeting that awareness. Incidentally, determining which type of exercise is right for your physiology remains crucial. In fact, exercise is designed that way. It’s designed to adhere to these misalignments, not exacerbate them.
Wolfe’s Law, a law according to biological systems (hard and soft tissues), adequately states that the body adapts to habitual position, which induces muscular or skeletal changes, and becomes distorted in direct correlation to the amount of stress imposed on them. In other words, what we do and don’t do on a daily basis (movement wise) has a direct effect on our bodies and well-being. Are you sitting at a desk all day, hunched over, staring at a computer until your nose essentially becomes part of the screen? This adequately fits a majority of persons. Then, because you’re tired, stressed and feeling guilty over not having exercised in 2 weeks, do you force yourself to go home and get that last minute “cardio” in at 9pm simply to check an item off the to-do list? Please. Allow me to debunk one of the world’s greatest myths: CARDIO TRUMPS STRENGTH TRAINING.
Exercise, of any form, remains only as beneficial as our physiology and structural stability allows it to be. Unfortunately, most of our physiologies and structural makeup are less than stellar, i.e poor thyroid function, adrenal fatigue, digestive dysfunction, inadequate sleep patterns, pelvic tilt, hip torsion, increased spinal curves, forward head posture, etc, etc, etc. If such stressed physiologic person were to hop on the treadmill for 30 or so minutes and pound away, every benefit said person would hope to accomplish would in fact erupt as an opposing non-benefit. You desire to lose weight, you will most likely gain in. You want to de-stress, you will end up more stressed (mentally and physically), you want to sleep better, you will develop additional improper sleeping habits. You long for better posture? Psych! Your posture will take a turn for the worse. In other words, cardio-type exercise executed by it’s lonesome (or in some cases, all together) will only aggravate your potentially (long) list of issues and instabilities.
The functional tissue for burning fat and improving structural alignment is, and always will be, MUSCLE. And guess what you’re accomplishing during your fit-in your-schedule, sweat-it-out, cardio session? The tearing down of muscle. Once the body transfers into an aerobic state, our system’s leading stress hormone, cortisol, is released in an attempt to balance out the stress imposed upon it. The stress in this particular case stands as the infamous “cardio.” Again, as Bobath so profoundly stated, movement determines muscle. Not the other way around.
“In the resting state, muscles consume mainly fats, so maintaining relatively large muscles is important for preventing the accumulation of fats”- Ray Peat, PhD
And what guarantees the maintaining of relatively large muscles? Strength training, that’s what. You know, like lifting weights.
I see it all the time, folks…
1. “TRIM BELLY FAT!” 2. “RAISE YOUR BUTTOCKS!” 3. “NO MORE BRA-BULDGE!” 4. “THINNER THIGHS NOW!”
Do you have any idea what the looming phrase health magazines, books and blogs today claim as the ultimate answer to these “jumpstart your weight loss now” gimmicks?
Toned. Toned belly, toned butt, toned back, toned thighs. Toned.
I actually cringed just typing it. “Lose weight by getting TONED now!” What does that even mean? Toned? I hate to tell you ladies (and men if relevant), but toned is simply the female word for MUSCLE. That’s right. MUSCLE. Thou shalt not be afraid of MUSCLE. And no, I’m not a sexist. I’m a realist. After all, I Am Female (hear me roar). All I’m dictating is that one simply cannot achieve a flat belly, plum rear and perfect bra-back without MUSCLE. And one cannot achieve muscle without strength training.
Not only does strength training accommodate weight loss and tight tushes, but it remains highly effiecient to concepts noted above (posture, structural, orthopedic, and rehabilitative issues), as you can effectively strengthen (there’s that word again) long, weak muscles and stretch the short, tight ones.
Contacting your nearest Holistic Healthcare Practitioner or advanced Physical Therapist is necessary, however, for educating, promoting and designing a therapeutic exercise program tailored to your individual physiological needs.
So. Exercise. Not what you thought, huh? If it is, call me…I’m impressed.