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Old 01-24-2013, 05:13 AM   #91
Kevin Leavitt
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Dojo: Team Combat USA
Location: Olympia, Washington
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 4,376
Re: "Internal" and "External"

Chris wrote:

So if I'm doing something that one muscle group can easily handle (lifting our spoon) it's not a good idea to use every muscle group to do that, because you'll use more energy. When lifting small things it's less taxing to use isolate muscle groups.
I would agree. A few years ago I worked with Paulinna L with some of her Alexander Technique stuff. She coached me through standing up from a seated position from a chair. Found out in the simple act of standing up, there was much I was doing wrong. I worked on it based on what I was able to get out of our short time together and corrected some minor things which required that I made a concerted effort to change some habits that were causing me some back pain.

Before this, I was moving in the most efficient manner I new how to based on habits, perceptions, proprioceptions, and physicality that had developed. I think it was you Chris that mentioned Tim Cartmel commenting on a small child and his posture right?

Well, lifting a spoon is seemingly a simple act in which for most does not require much thought or concern about what muscle groups, neurons, structure etc we should use. However, I do think that we develop efficiencies on our own that while they may be efficient within a particular context, they may have unintended results in others areas. Such as developing habits or coping mechanisms that turn into physical constraints due to atrophy, neural pathway development etc. So I think it is simple to say that we naturally use the correct structures and efficiency when lifting a spoon...I am not so sure it happens all the time.

Once we learn things, we establish a baseline for ourselves that we cannot break easily. In fact, it can seem down right WRONG as our mind is telling us not to do it cause it is wrong.

So I think efficiency and effectiveness can be a slippery subject for sure. I have found it is hard work to re-wire things as you are working against your baseline. However, once you cross the threshold then we can go back to simply having intent and not give conscious thought to employing the new habits....which then become our new baseline and our new efficiency in doing something...maybe as simply as lifting a spoon.

Going back to the example of a young agile athlete. Again, it may indeed be most efficient for him to use speed and agility and he can compensate for things that may hurt him down the road. However, someday, he will zig when he meant to zag and BAM there goes that knee. He will then have to go through a process of re-wiring to figure out his new baseline and efficiency.

Again, I personally think we spend too much time on trying to quantify exactly what is going on versus simply assessing the methodologies and their effectiveness in getting us to do the things we want to do.

Chris, I think you are spot on in your assessment/measures in establishing goals and endstates as a measuring stick. I have learned though that this is a tricky business when looking at assessment/goals/end states.

Dealing with two serious orthopeadic injuries in a 9 month period due has made me look hard at my martial mortality. I have had a AC joint blown apart from a Sambo player that is now held together with fiber wire and now dealing with a knee that has a torn LCL, PCL, and a torn popliteal muscle. I ain't what I was a year ago. However, with my injuries I have managed to stay on the mat and have been working hard to find new ways of moving, protecting my body, and finding strength. I'll never be a world champion, nor will any of this training do very much to help me overcome the 25 year old's agility and strength on the mat.

However, if I can strengthen my weak psoas muscles and structure from years of misuse and abuse and I can learn to move by engaging them first, then I can transition to my leg when standing without having to put a heavy load on it by leaning forward with my upper body. Maybe it will last a few years longer. When I was younger, I didn't need to be concerned with that. These days I do.

To be honest, 6 months ago, lifting a spoon to eat with my shoulder was impossible so yeah...I became very aware of how to isolate out even more structure that I used to do that habitually cause before then, it simply didn't matter cause I had so much "over power". However, once that was very limited, I had to get even more efficient.

I need to be able to do 25 push ups to pass my PT test. I am up to 15 right now. I have to re-wire doing push ups so as not to put undo stress on my shoulder group. I am telling you it is not fun. I am a guy that used to be able to do 75 in 2 minutes without thinking about it. Now I have to work hard and re-wire to become more efficient and use different structures.

I still stand by my comments that it doesn't matter how you move a 200lb weight as long as you move it and it accomplishes your goal. I think we tend to get too concerned in the community about how we do it and never bother to pick it up and move it figuratively. However, of course, you can pick it up "wrong" and damage your back, over time repetitive stress can cause problems etc.

So yeah, on one hand, sure, doesn't matter how. On the other does some point!

I was watching the Crossfit Games a few weeks ago. Amazing feats of strength and conditioning! Some of these athletes were doing some crazy things to do what they were doing. Some doing them with good structure, some with could see the knee injury waiting to happen.

However, it didn't happen, so it worked for them. Maybe someday it won't work for them and they will then have to re-wire. The point is they are winning medals and accomplishing their goals. If they got caught up in "right way" and said, "well I am not going to compete or lift heavy weights until I can do it a certain way." Then they may not be called "winner" or "champion" and they will have to be content at a small local gym washing towels and scoffing at the "bad form" folks are using in the crossfit games on the internet! So is what it is and life goes on.

So, I think that at some level we need to consider "lifting the spoon"...but we cannot do it at the expense of starving ourselves if we don't feel we are not doing it right.

However, do we lift the spoon to our mouth? Do we lift it half way and then crane our neck downward to meet it? What is really going on with it? Is it hurting us in someway to do that? Is it an indicator of deeper issue?

Sure it is worth considering IMO...but again, not to the point of not sitting at the table and eating until we do it correctly.

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