How many of you put what you learned about your legs into practice this month? Did you notice a difference? And if so, What kind of difference?
Today we are going to begin working on the upper body and balance
First, let’s begin with our hands and wrists. How many of you have had wrist issues? Let’s think about how we got into that predicament in the first place. How many of you with wrist problems originally learned to type on a standard typewriter? They were designed by some very creative and scientific people who needed to give their wrists a break from writing. They were designed to help us type quickly with minimal wrist movement, because the more we engaged our wrist ligaments the more painful they became.
Utilize your muscles to move your wrists, not your ligaments. So how do we do that? Lets start by engaging our finger muscles, And now our hand muscles. And now the muscles in our forearms. And now the muscles in our upper arms. Ok, now release the muscles in our upper arms, now our forearms, now our hands, and now our fingers. Now engage your fingers, hands, forearms, upper arms. Good. Now, with those muscles engaged, simply rotate your hand from palm up, to palm down.
Very good. The difference is that when your ligaments are doing the moving, all the pressure is in the wrist joint. When the muscles are moving the wrist, every muscle all the way up your arm is contributing, lending both strength, and dexterity.
Now let’s move on to lifting. Did you notice that I have not handed out any diagrams? That is because every person reading this is different, just like everything you pick up is different.
Let’s start by picking up a simple empty pot. Engage your muscles and pick it up.
Now let’s imagine we fill this pot with three pounds of water. Engage your muscles and pick it up. Good, now for those of you who can, lets fill it with ten pounds of water. Did it get heavy?
Now for some fun! I am going to show you a trick that will prove how powerful your mind is. If you have them, look at the varying size weights of dumbells. I would like all of you to pick each of the different weights up and familiarize yourself with how they feel. Now if you also have a feather, I would like you to pick that up and feel its weight as well. You have now felt a variety of different weights, and your subconscious mind has been storing the information.
I am going to ask each of you to place your hands on top of your heads for one minute reciting that everything in front of you is light as a feather.
And now pick up the heaviest weight in front of you. How did that feel?
That was pretty impressive, right? Have any of you ever noticed that Olympic weightlifters wear beanie caps and gloves? If we humans could harness the energy that we lose out of our head, hands and feet, we would be superhuman.
And for those of you here who are cattlemen, it gives you a whole new view of how you can seem to just keep going until the last calf is done, even when you should have collapsed. So put those hats and gloves back on next time you need to move some heavy weight.
We have a tremendous amount of energy flowing through our bodies. And although science tells us how much something should weigh according to the degree of gravity here on earth, the mind can make that same weight either feel way heavier than it is, or it can take that same weight and make it seem light as a feather. You, miracle that you are, get to choose… which leads us into our next exercise.
Balance is critical to all of our movement. You got to taste a bit of that last session when you learned to keep your body in alignment as you walked with your leg muscles engaged, but we are going to expand on that just a bit. You have now learned to engage your arms and legs. We are going to engage our torso, our entire main frame, next.
As you are sitting there, I want you to start with your toes, and engage each section one at a time. From your toes, to your feet, now your calves, thighs, torso, chest, shoulders, upper arms, forearms, hands, fingers. Now, release engagement starting with your fingers, hands, forearms, upper arms, shoulders, chest, torso, thighs, calves, feet, and toes. Very good. Now lets’ repeat. As you are doing this, notice that I have not named a single joint on your body. That is because they are what holds you together, not what moves you. Movement is the job of your muscles. Ok, so now that we can engage each separate section, lets try to just maintain engagement without the thought of weight. We just want them engaged so that we are ready to move. At attention but not active. If you have not already, you may want to move to the edge of your chair to get your feet under you. Good, now stand up. Some of you will need to push up for now and that is ok. We will continue to work on that. Keep them engaged and ask just enough of them to stand up. Now sit down with everything still engaged. What did you notice? NO pressure on the spine! Ok, so let’s try it again with the thought of standing up with our feet balanced underneath us. See how much easier that was than normal? We are asking our muscles to do the work instead of momentum. Momentum not only uses our joints but causes us to lose balance as we throw our weight into standing up. You can use your arms muscles to help lift you, but do not throw yourself up. If you need help drop us an email to help you figure out which muscles are not engaging.
Very good. That was impressive wasn’t it?
Now we are going to start walking again, and as we do, we are going to ask all of our muscles to stay engaged. As you walk around the room, feel each muscle doing its job to keep you in balance. When your muscles are doing the work, they will always move to keep your body in alignment and balanced. Notice how as you turn, your foot and leg is doing the turning and not your spine? Our body knows how to protect us if we allow it to stay engaged. Trust your body to KNOW how to work.
As fun as that was, we are now going to add weight to it. As you walk, add 50 lbs to carry around. Whew! That was a little more difficult wasn’t it? Now let’s add 75 lbs.
And now, lets imagine we are light as a feather…Is it not amazing how powerful the mind is?
So let’s think about how we can use this through the day. We can make moving paper as heavy a workout as we need, or we can make feed sacks weigh as little as we choose. You can literally get a 30-minute workout as you are fixing breakfast or dinner.
Let’s focus just a bit more on balance. One of the most common things we worry about is losing our balance. I am going to ask you to keep standing, and I want you to imagine that your feet are growing roots down into the ground. You are basically gluing yourself to the ground beneath you. Those roots are going to keep you standing straight and tall . There is no way for you to lose balance. We are going to spend about a minute concentrating.
Now lift your left foot…HAHA! Now try to lift your right foot. How interesting is that?
So as we start to walk this off, imagine that every time you put a foot down, the roots grab the ground, and as soon as you need to move that foot they instantly release, only to grab the ground as you walk, helping keep you upright and balanced.
While we were busy concentrating on keeping our muscles engaged and balanced, did anyone notice their back hurting? That is because the back muscles were engaged and the ligaments of the spine were able to just do their job of holding you together, and not being asked to stretch their limits.
So how exciting was this? Do you see how easy it is to incorporate this into your everyday routine? You don’t lose any time, you have more energy and stamina, less achy moments, and the energy you create actually gives you more time in the day before you wear out. It is a win all the way around!
Let’s get a bit more detailed about standing up. We are going to focus on specific muscles that we use to maintain balance as we stand up. Move to the edge of your chair so that your toes are even with your knees. Now, not everyone will succeed at first and that is ok. We will need to remind those muscles a few times about how they are supposed to work. Let’s try to stand up using just our toe, calf, leg, and thigh muscles.
Standing up with momentum is one of the first shortcuts we learn to take. If you can’t quite muster a stand unassisted, go ahead and utilize the muscles in your arms to give you more lift.
If you still managed to use a bit of momentum, and that is going to put pressure on your spine, so let’s try it again, but keep your back in line and just lift yourself up. Very good! We have now covered the basics. Next session we will start getting into targeted exercises. Make sure and utilize these exercises both at work and around the house. Learning new habits is the key to getting ourselves in better shape and improving our health.
I am looking forward to an energetic and transformative year. I hope this helps you transform how you think of your muscles in the future and how we can improve our communication with our bodies. Have a great February!