1. Your body wants to make things easy for itself.
We can’t argue that our body is adaptable. If it weren’t, millions of people wouldn’t head to the gym each in everyday in hopes to change something on their body. Whether it is being able to run longer or faster, if we routinely practice something, we will improve it. The human organism will make the changes necessary to allow you more EASE to perform. The same is said for building muscle. If you are weak and you begin to lift weights regularly you will get stronger. Essentially you are conditioning muscles to become more responsive to chemical messages from your brain. This can be evident in the tone and shape that a muscle maintains. We can all look at people that lifts and know that they lift weights.
So we intuitively know that what we are given in our individual human body is somewhat in our control. We can easily say that if we want to change the shape and strength of skeletal muscle, lets head to the gym and do something about it. It is the basic age old scientific idea of cause and effect that makes up the exercise physiology principle of Specifically Adaptation to Imposed Demands. Basically, what this says if you put a body in an environment for long enough with enough stress it will adapt. This is why if you persist with running that dreaded mile, eventually your cardiovascular system and muscular system will adapt, make some changes, which will allow you to improve your ability.
This is great and this is what creates variety in people as machines. We can certainly see the difference in those that are weightlifters versus those that are runners versus those that find themselves in a recumbent position often. Just look at people that sit behind a steering wheel for hours on end. You will notice that their head comes forward, their chest collapses inward, and their shoulders roll-in. That’s pretty awesome, if you ask me. If you all you ever do is drive, you were able to turn yourself into the perfect driving organism. Your body-shape morphs to match the shape of the seat of the car. I find it simply amazing that your muscle lengths will be able to change size because your joints are better suited to be a in a different positions for a given activity.
The problem is that, in the real world many of us are forced to do other things every now and then. Using our seated person as example, his/her body generally falls forward to match the seat of the car and that’s good, but what if they need to extend backward? This is where the SAID principle can be a determent. If we don’t use our muscles or don’t perform movements in particular directions, we will lose the ability to do them. Simple as that.
THE TAKE-HOME MESSAGE: Our bony structure and joint position can be a window to what we are good,or not so good at doing. Bones together make joints and joints move because muscles attach to them. The elastic property muscles allow them to
be stretched into different lengths and shapes. We have the ability to change these shapes either consciously (weight-training, etc) or unconsciously (habits).
2. We need to be able to see.
Easy concept to understand. Our head holds our eyeballs and our eyeballs are a major sensory organ for just how we gather the space of the world around us. For us to move appropriately the body will make the necessary adjustments to keep the head level with the horizon. That’s partially why when look at a person with a bend in the spine, you will also notice that it seems as if there head tilts or bend to the side to correct visual inputs.
This really important to understand because there a is relationship that exists between the position of your head and the resulting shape that your spine takes.
Your head sits on top of your neck. Your neck represents the tip-top of your spine. If your neck bends one direction, it causes the rest of the spine to bend in other directions to prevent you from falling over. This also causes the vertebral disc’s to rotate in a direction opposite the bend. This creates a rotation in all the discs below. In doing so, the muscles that attach to the spine change lengths to maintain position. This makes movement less then optimal in both directions. Essentially this could very well mean you are unable to twist to one side as good as the other. Which is a problem, if life requires that of you.
You might be thinking, that you spine is perfect and who care’s?!?!? Number one, just about everyone has a bend in their spine. Most us will routinely carry bags, babies or books one side more than other. Guess what? You body recognizes this and makes changes (SAID principle). So it is likely you have bend.
Even if you don’t, this is important to understand for people that have a dominant eye or they play a sport that has routinely perpendicular action, like hitting in baseball or a fighting stance in boxing. Naturally we will align our dominant eye in the center of our vision, thus the chain reaction takes place down our spine.
THE TAKE-HOME MESSAGE: Our brain wants to see the world the best it can and will do what it takes to align itself up to receive accurate information. This can make a ripple like effect down the spine that can change the lengths of most of our muscles and create movement related impairments or dysfunction.
If someone were to step on my toe, my reaction would be, “Owwww!” and then to slide my weight over to the other foot. I would physically move my body unconsciously to avoid the pain. It is that simple and easily understood.
We have to remember that your body and brain are constantly trying to find ways to make things easy on itself. We already know that. We also understand that your brain is trying to register movements with your body and create templates for positions and patterns it finds we use with regularity. If we are constantly in pain, from say a stomach ache, the muscles in our chest will tighten up while the muscle in our back will get longer, the more we hold our stomach. Again, what we do, becomes who we are.
This particularly evident in those who live high-stress life’s. The innate human response to a stressor is to “tuck your tail and just jut your shoulders up.” It is prophesized that this an animal act to protect you genitalia, as seen in many examples of the “fright versus flight mechanism”
THE TAKE-HOME MESSAGE: Our body will do what it can to protect us from living in pain. This can mean simple things like move our joint position to avoid something that hurts or get us in a good position to defend our self. Either way, there seems to be a component to emotion which plays a role in our posture and therefore the lengths of our muscle tissue.