number five: stretch

As  a massage therapist and student of medicine in general, with a sprinkle of various kinds of psychology and whatnot, I can tell you with some degree of certitude that the pattern of deterioration in the outer parts of the body follows a pretty predictable track: wear, contraction and rigidity. 

 So, it ought to be fairly obvious that the antidote to this is regular maintainence, which really just means, first of all,  regular healthy use, as the body is good at repairing itself if you don’t abuse it too seriously, and for the latter two, counteracting those tendancies to fall into a sinkhole of limited motion and familiar physical patterns.

 Which is all a nice way of saying that if you don’t encourage your body to move and stretch and explore it’s full range of motion, you will lose it. And when you lose that, you also begin, interestingly enough, to lose some of the flexibility in the mind. Indeed, these two go hand in hand.

 In this day and age, it’s shocking to see how young some people’s bodies are going to hell because they can’t get up from the fucking desk and stretch a little bit every half an hour. Spare yourself some pain, for christ’s sake. I don’t need the money that badly.

   Yoga, tai chi, pilates, swimming, dance, most sports. These are all adequate, or simply get a book of stretches from the library and read it. Although obviously, something like yoga or tai chi constitutes a more comprehensive regimen than most.

 When you encourage your body to open up and move, especially in ways it never has before,  the mind inevitably follows. Don’t underestimate the mind expanding side effects of a good back or groin stretch.

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4 thoughts on “Evolution by the Numbers: Number Five

  1. Would you say that strength training (bench press, squat, dead lift, etc.) encourages or discourages rigidity of bodily motion?

  2. depends how you do it. if you take it to the point where your muscle development starts to limit your range of motion, then yeah. nothing worse than ‘imaginary lat syndrome’.

    otherwise no. regular exercise relieves tension in my experience. but if you’re a rage addict and the testosterone associated with weight training accentuates it, then you might be a little more tense, even.

  3. @ Chris: i’d advise stretching your hamstrings, hip flexors, and quadraceps if you perform any regular multijoint lower body exercise. Also maybe the calves–posterior chain inflexibility can cause problems all the way up to your skull. And I know most of them from experience. And if you’re doing weight exercises, or you work at a desk, look into “spinal decompression”, AKA, “holding yourself up by the arms of the chair with your feet on the ground”. Do it for a quick five-count a five to ten times in a row every hour or so. don’t over-do the actual stretch by holding it too long or trying too hard because then you’ll be worse off than you started. If that sounds too complicated, lie on your back with your legs bent and perched on a chair.

    In general, i’ve found that Kunadlini yoga, particularly the kriyas with consecutive, different breathing exercises, are most useful for breaking up tension in the torso and spine. A class is great if you can find one, especially because a teacher knows more than a book, but doing it at home works, too. Though that all seems a topic for another time.

  4. congratulations zac, awesome set of posts.. I had stopped way back in Alchemy for the braindamaged X ,so now I’m gonna catch up with this and back there.. thank you for spending time helping people. Is there a way I can contact you or you can contact me? I have some fragmented ideas about energy sources in my head that I wanted to get straight … thank you, sorry for my somewhat poor english..

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