Despite performing lots of exercises, meditations and positions we still get bad posture. We still get pain, confusion and stress. It’s like there’s no escape. If you do sit-ups with the idea that it’s helping your back pain, stop. Sit-ups cause back pain. Press-ups help us get neck pain. Press-ups and sit-ups are exercises to avoid if you want to relieve your black and neck pain.
These exercises are only working a specific part of the body. Well that’s not the end of the sentence. They work a specific set of muscles at the detriment of others and rely on you doing many other specific exercises to balance out the rest of the body. So many workouts are left unbalanced, not everyone will think, want or be able to do pull ups to even out the press ups.
Let's get specific and repetitive
But unbalanced workouts are not as bad as the specificity and repetition that will numb your sense of how you use yourself. This numbness provokes a startle pattern, gripping and cramping response.
Because the exercises are so specific there is very little support and consideration for the rest of our bodies. For instance, when we do press-ups it’s impossible not to tighten our necks to stop our heads falling forward. This will shorten the muscles in the neck and create rigidity in the hips . A high price for a chest workout. Repetition simply adds fuel to the fire, stressing the limited movement, removing your sensitivity and gains in coordination for hard work. But wouldn’t it be better to work out in an expansive way where you increased your coordination and built up your own sensitivity to stress?
Full body activities where all of your body and mind is engaged with what you are doing. Olympic weight lifts such as the snatch and the clean and jerk are very good because you are lifting along the line of your spine with your whole body engaged. You don’t need to lift heavy weights though. Far from it. Running, swimming and climbing make you engage with the environment so you are more likely to build muscle and fitness in a coordinated way. You won’t see a Tour de France rider without a hump in the middle of his back. Racing bikes are just not set up for our bodies.
Working too hard
Over working will shorten our muscles too. Love him or hate him, Charlie Francis, Ben Johnson’s coach understood this perfectly. He could see when his sprinters would do intervals that lasted too long without rest. Charlie would notice when they would be training 70 metre intervals and would be losing their form or pulling themselves down to complete the interval. He would then lower the interval distance to e.g. 30 metres to get the effect that he wanted. Don’t work harder work smarter.
Press-ups, sit-ups and other exercises like star jumps are symptomatic of thinking in terms of specific, narrowed and concentrated ways. It’s not exclusive to the west! We are used to thinking in terms of problems solution with a specific result in mind and we relate this back into other areas of our lives. A wider view is needed. We need the body to respond as a whole so that everything works together in a coordinated fashion.
Neglecting this is what leads to injury, stress, and confusion. Rather than doing lots of exercises that bulk up certain big muscles and take the load, length and freedom off our joints and tendons, we need to be fully engaged. Instead of boxing in parts of our lives we need to see how they relate to each other. I’m not saying that they all become the same thing. Then you would have no boundaries or privacy and that would be quite useless.
Integration happens when you stop
So you do need to respond as a whole, with a broad picture in mind and to do that you must decide to stop. If you don’t stop and take your time then everything becomes unconsidered, results orientated, bitty and uncoordinated. Many people think that if you just sort out this one part then everything will be ok. Most of us will choose cure instead of prevention. Cures don’t exist for many problems but because we are conditioned to look for them we are unconsciously choosing them. This is why most of us are not thinking in an integrated way. Even the word integration gets used now as a melting pot for throwing as many results orientated solutions at you as possible.
Tell me something I don't know
Rather than seeking to change the person's overall condition of use, mentally, physically and spiritually by teaching them not to react and decide themselves they are just fed easy answers that never result in the person taking control for themselves. They revolve or regress instead of progressing. They react in all the predictable, old, subconscious ways and get the same injuries again and again, never exercising any choice that is unknown to them because that would “feel wrong”. And of course some of these choices are good, but because there is no method or technique for opening up the conscious (unknown) to get away from the subconscious (known) there is no change.
If we’re reacting all the time then we can’t stop to see what's going on with ourselves. The smashing happens with our bodies, if we can’t stop then we won’t understand how we are forming bad relationships between our necks, heads and backs. But don’t make it worse by dividing yourself and your body up by doing the wrong things.