Beyond Sweaty and Breathless

Beyond Sweaty and Breathless

Too often people equate training for fitness with workouts focused on cardio endurance or muscle strength. Afterwards, they are sweaty and breathless.

They are also relaxed and ecstatic - actually blissed-out on exercise-induced, feel-good endorphins released in their brains. The natural exercise high. Nothing wrong with that!

However, achieving real fitness involves more than that. Getting sweaty and breathless is the easy part, and not always the most important.

neuromotor

Once in middle age, the body begins to lose neuromotor control, meaning the brain doesn’t effectively communicate with muscle groups. Some of this is due to inevitable biological changes, but the process is accelerated by disuse of the neuromotor connections.

It’s a prime reason that adults start to look so awkward, graceless, slow and un-skilled when they have to perform many physical movements, especially those they don’t do often or avoid because we all live in environments engineered to reduce the need for physcial activity.

But life goes on, and real life is not engineered to keep us safe and sedentary. All kinds of movements may be needed at any moment. You may need to crawl, jump, squirm on you back, quickly accelerate and decelerate, catch something flying toward your head, get over or under an obstacle, quickly move a heavy object across a space.  Any of these can cause frustration, embarrassment or injury if your body is not up to the task.

These movements are not about being sweaty, breathless, and blissed. They require practice to renew and maintain these vital neuromotor connections to synchronize and sequence movements over multiple joints, thru different planes of motion, with varying velocities and loads on your body. While practicing these, you may not get the bliss of a “workout.” However, you’ll be more life ready.

It’s like food. Desert is great, but to thrive you also have to eat your fruit and veggies.

 

 

 

The Gym in the Palm of Your Hand

The Gym in the Palm of Your Hand

Sometimes in the Younger Games we do an exercise band workout. We’re in the gym, but as Rhonda Coleman, a writer and exerciser at CBF realized, the workout is perfect for taking on the road.

She wrote an excellent article for Outside Interests with the step-by-step why and how of this 10 minute strength-building routine with a piece of equipment that’s inexpensive and fits in the palm of your hand. She includes photos for every exercise.

palm

Save it in your Favorites and you’ll be ready to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Magic Moment

This Magic Moment

We don’t mean the magic moment when you fall in love as in the classic opening line in the song by the Drifters, but rather that instant realization before you accidentally fall to the ground.

In that fleeting moment after a collision, push, slip or trp, there’s no time to consciously figure out what to do. However, if you’ve practiced some falling, your central nervous system will already be making body adjustments to prepare for landing before you are even aware you’re headed down.

hope

Some of the most skilled fallers are elite athletes, like Hope Solo, the goalkeeper for the US Women’s National Soccer Team. So what practical lessons can an average person, especially an older adult, learn from her? Lots because the structure of her body is the same as ours. As part of her sport, as is the case with many athletes, she falls down and gets back up – with minimal injuries – over and over again. We can learn a lot by studying how they do this, then adopt their techniques.

So what are the lessons? Judging by her trailing ponytail, she’s falling through space like a rock headed for a crash. That she is, but she’ll land safely because she knows how to fall.

Look at the picture. Hope’s falling sideways. In a sideways fall, the areas most vulnerable to serious injury are the side of the hip (that hard, unpadded area where you can feel bone, which is where femur connects with the pelvis), shoulder, upper arm and wrist. She has already adjusted to prevent all of these.

First, note that her left knee is bent. It will touch the ground first, both slowing the fall and allowing the vulnerable area of the hip to receive very little force. She will not attempt to stop the fall with her knee, just decelerate it.  After touch down, it will fold down.

Second, note that Solo’s left arm is bent at the elbow and wrist.It is not extended straight down and rigid and leading with the fingers. Again, she will not attempt to stop the fall.  Instead, her arm will act like a shock absorber with no single joint taking the brunt of the force. The pad of her hand will touch first, then the forearm, then the upper arm will fold underneath. She’ll either skid on the grass to a stop or roll onto her back.

This combination movement is very natural and automatic once you learn and practice it, as we do in the COCC workshop “The Art of the Fall.” You can sign up here or call 541 383-7270. CRN number is 49237.

The second line of the song by the Drifters talks about that magic moment of falling in love being “so different and so new.”  That’s a wonderful thing about love.

But when it comes to the moment that you’re falling, you want there to be nothing different or new about it. Your brain recognizes the sensation and your body knows what to do without even thinking.