Ok, so I read this great article on the 26 blogs every blogger should write because blogging, while I love it, is basically a hobby I do when I'm not working. And I'm never not working, so I take all the help I can get when it comes to blog suggestion. Number 26 on the list is Write Your Manifesto.
Sounds important, right?
“A manifesto is a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political in nature”.
A political statement also "feels right" the day after Independence Day. This is a new twist on a post from awhile back (I'm a better writer now!) and is also the first page out of the new Whole-Body certification manual. I hope it inspires you. It inspires me to work every day, on every level.
Bio: Life; living organism
Mechanics: Classical mechanics is a branch of physics concerned with mathematically describing the forces that create motion of bodies and the effect of these motions on their environment.
Biomechanics began at the beginning -- not the beginning of the century, not the start of the Christian Era, nor did it bloom from the Ancient Olympics. The movement forces began with life, as the very definition of “life” includes mechanical concepts of Work (movement):
The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism.
The written history of biomechanics is generally recognized to begin with a series of Aristotle’s essays De Motu Animalium (Movement of Animals), in which he uses the not-yet-termed mechanical concept of ground action force as a starting point to deliberate where movement comes from. The body? The spirit?
These are good questions.
Biomechanics as a United States university program began just after the First World War. The first-time widespread use of explosives in battle resulted in unprecedented numbers of amputees. These weren’t old men who could live out the rest of their lives with a peg for a leg. These men needed to start and support families, take over family businesses, and fully participate in the country they had just defended. The use of heavy explosives created a situation in which military technology had exceeded medical technology. Medicine was obliged to deal with the situation, and had to adapt.
Designing a prosthetic wasn’t a medical emergency nor a chemistry problem. Doctors had to turn to mechanical engineers in the University system for help. Engineers took a look at the arm or leg from a mechanical perspective and attempted to create a replacement with as much of the same functionality of the original limb as possible. At this point, biomechanics became a university study option for mechanical engineers. In modern science where they were previously separated, this was the first marriage between the biological and physical sciences, and required a mastery of anatomy, physiology, physics, and mathematics.
As the effects of the Industrial Revolution set in, Americans became more and more sedentary, which gave rise to the concept of “exercise,” where to compensate for the decrease in regular, daily movement, we would intensely move the whole body in short bursts. Fifty years later, biological movements like walking, squatting to birth or defecate, flexing, extending, and rotating all the joints on a regular basis were decreased to the point that new generations had no handed-down knowledge of how people moved before the population had stopped moving (if you watch Disney’s WALL-E, you can get a nice visual of this phenomenon).
Around the 60s and 70s, programs of kinesiology (technically, the science of human movement) began appearing in university curriculum, but these programs were incorrectly named. The departments of kinesiology should have been called sport science, as the programs offered contained only those movements used in modern athletic and sport-related activities -- very different from the science of movements humans have been doing for the last 200,000 years. Biomechanical programs, following the trend of kinesiology, have since focused the bulk of their curriculum and funding to study “exercise” instead of movement, and athletics (golf, golf, golf!) instead of health.
Both science and research have shown that fitness does not equal health, not in the heart and not in the joints. This is confusing to many. If the cause of most ailments affecting affluent populations -- ailments like osteoarthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis -- is lack of movement, shouldn’t exercise be the solution? The answer is, no.
Exercise is not the flip side of the sedentary coin -- movement is. While the difference may seem like an argument in semantics, these two habits are quite different.
Movement, specific to the requirements of biological survival, not only keeps us fit in the terms set by pop magazine culture, but also matches the mechanical requirements of human tissues. These are movements like walking long distances, squatting to bathroom and birth, hauling your weight up and over, or lowering full body weight. Natural motion respects tissues threshold for loads, requirements for vibration, and provides other mechanical necessities like gravity assisted functions of the internal physiology. Doing natural, reflex-driven movements from birth not only utilize the large muscle groupings we commonly think of at the gym, but the other 500 muscles as well, including the muscles between the ribs that open and close to inflate the lungs, the intrinsic muscles of the feet that create the arch shape of the foot, or the constant force-generating sheets that make the pelvic floor.
Exercise, while having much of what makes movement good, carries with it elements that make it far less superior, such as small quantities, high intensities, and large unnatural and repetitive forces in the joints. It is these characteristics that leaves exercise a poor substitute for movement and is why professional level athletes, weekend warriors, and gym rats do not have better health (in such terms as surgeries, medications, and death from cardiovascular disease) than those who sit and do nothing at all.
Like any natural organism functioning in a natural world, balance is the key to survival. Survival of the population, survival of the individual, and survival of the cellular structures that make up said individual all depends on the delicate balance of forces within the body. Movement, when mimicking the habits of those humans long passed, provides us with the required mechanical stimulation without which we die. While we tend to think of death only in terms of the whole person, we allow small deaths like that of cartilage, bone, or parts of organs to fall under other names and categories. It does not occur to us that a lack of movement is the cause of these deaths, but blame other, uncontrollable things like age or genetics.
It is very easy to understand how whole-body movement keeps our body in a state of re-generation (and not de-generation), through the application of simple geometry and physics to known processes of physiology and anatomy. Our physiology functions much like a self winding clock. Actually, we are comprised of 600+ self winding clocks, for each muscle has its own responsibility to feed itself and the tissues of that area. The “original blueprints” for the human, no matter the source, surely couldn’t have accounted for a time when body-owners would spend so much time spent ignoring biological signals of stress, hunger, and fatigue; the owner of a human-machine would render itself inert by choice first, and then eventually by habit.
Since Aristotle and Newton, we as a population have become less concerned with our understanding of the laws of nature and natural movement and more familiar with cardio machines, hand weights, and high-tech footwear. Movement has been a void in our lives for so long, that to become moving creatures (as opposed to exercising ones) seems impossible. Rearranging our lives to accommodate less -- less work, less stress, less furniture, less driving, less sitting, less convenience -- seems too much to ask... at first.
This platform, that you are about to study, is the content of the ever-elusive human manual. A guide to the nuts and bolts of the biological machinery under the influence of mechanics, this book shall first be a service to one’s self. Before taking this course as a practitioner, you must first take this course for yourself. Get to know yourself and then spend the rest of your life mastering yourself. If there is time, you can work on yourself with others, allowing them to learn via your example.
In both Aristotle’s writings and Isaac Newton’s equations, full stability (a fixed point at each joint) gives a human being the ability to live using every single one of their muscles...all 600 of them. But the lack of moving for years (or, as a population, for a few hundred years) has left us overusing a few joints, while the rest of the body sits dormant and inert. Leonardo da Vinci would likely say that the result would be decreased output and function of the machinery. Cells would die. Disease would ensue. Aristotle would say that, under sub-optimal conditions, one’s spirit and life force would be unable to express.
Both would probably be correct.
There is a solution. Freedom from disease is attainable, by using the whole body in a biological, reflex-driven way. First, we must be careful not to force the concept of movement into an inaccurate paradigm. To isolate parts of the body when strengthening or to think of strength as something any less than a whole-body event is to miss the point. You were designed to be a strong-yet-supple dynamic creature of endurance. Its time to start acting like one.
Can I get an Amen?