Mind, Body, and Spirit: The Three Unifying Elements of Humans.
Body: The body needs movement above all else.
Body: Your muscles are what give you the strength and ability to move, and complex movement like running, all the sport playing in the world, lifting enormous amounts of weight or just holding your body upright as an ocean wave tries to take you down, even something as silly as rolling onto your side when being tickled, and best of all self-healing. Each muscle big and tiny are working together, sometimes with the same effort, and sometimes against one another in order to give balance and grace to your effort. Without movement, our blood would not circulate and we would have something called excessive coagulation. This would feel like muscle tightness and inflammation from lack of oxygenated blood, and worst of all the residual build up of toxins that aren’t getting naturally flushed out of the system.
Please see in the Foam Rolling section where I mention more information about the Lymphatic system. Anyone who has not been active for more than five years should begin with Foam Rolling. The lymphatic system is the only system of the body that needs movement to work. Its function is ridding the body of garbage with the help of key organs like kidneys and the liver. Much like an internal car wash, old cells that have already been regenerated, dead tissue, and toxic materials that are sitting in the blood stream are removed through urine or feces. All the lymphatic system asks from you in return is to move, i.e zumba, jumping rope, jogging, yoga, etc. What does etc. mean? Anytime you are engaging in muscle contraction and/ or cardiovascular activity you are in effect going to engage the lymphatic system and flush toxins out of your body. Sound Good? See Cardiovascular Activities.
There are two types of muscles:
The two types of muscles are fast twitch and slow twitch. What is a twitch? In order for a muscle to contract and create movement, also called work, it has to twitch and make energy. Fast twitch are called Type II, but these muscles are broken down into two additional subgroups: Type IIA and Type IIB. But let’s not get nuts.
Type II muscle fibers have a higher energy demand than Type I, as they only work in high intensity settings, however Type I muscle fibers create the most amount of energy as they have the time to use oxygen in that production process. Type II’s demands will undoubtedly give the best gains in strength, as well as burn more total calories, but could never compete with the endurance and energy output of Type I muscle activities. This is a really easy way to understand why some people are really great at sprinting and others are better at marathons.
Type I muscles are slower and are used for low to moderate intensity and for long periods of time, like rowing, jogging, cycling, etc. You will read more about aerobic energy production in a later section, but the reason type I are excellent muscles for endurance training is because aerobic energy production is more than double the output of anaerobic energy production.
There are four kinds of muscle behavior/functioning: the varying contractions and flexibility.
- A concentric muscle contraction is when you are shortening the muscle. When we “make a muscle” to create a bulge in a bicep by curling our wrist towards the shoulder, we are contracting the bicep muscle concentrically.
- An eccentric contraction is when a muscle becomes long and stretched but maintaining its activity. This can be represented in the down phase of a bicep curl. There is still a loaded weight in the hand and so the muscle must work to slowly lower even though the length of the muscle is stretching and becoming longer.
- Isometric contractions are the static and low to mid grade muscle activity where there is no change in the length of the muscle. The easiest way to understand this is to imagine a muscle having to work, like your abs when holding a plank, or for example if you hold a dumbbell with arms extended in front of you no higher than shoulder height. The length of the muscles of the back supporting the arm do not change length, nor do the muscles of the arm and shoulder but they are active in their static hold.
The last and as far as I can see it, the most important detail regarding muscle behavior and functioning is flexibility.
- If a muscle is not flexible, it will not live up to its potential to be strong. It needs to be able to move and “breathe” as supple flexible muscles have shown to. Bones cannot move on their own, they can only do so as a direct result of the tightening or slacking of muscles. Stronger muscles naturally pull on the bones they attach to. Joints are made up of bones. You do not want muscles whether they are tight, or weak and long, pulling on your joints. This tension or lack thereof can compromise the stability of basic human movement, like walking, standing, or exercising.
Your muscles need rest: This is the same as the mind, if not properly rested, your muscles will change your overall well-being and mood. In order for your muscles to operate well, they must be rested and well hydrated.
Goals of the Muscle Body Connection:
- You will feel stronger, more rested, and less stressed.
- Your habits will begin to change as you have cleared your tissues from toxins.
- Establish communication between muscles, increase circulation of oxygen for more balanced and confident movement.
- You will begin to appreciate anatomy and biomechanics and learn more on your own so that you can continue to challenge your physical capabilities.
- You can tackle greater life challenges based on what you have pushed yourself to accomplish physically.