Brain Trust

September 24, 2017

Is the heart sitting right on top of the liver? Does the liver find that rude?

Must the kidneys constantly be elbowing for room because those pushy intestines keep sprawling over the chalk line running down the middle of their bedroom? If you could make your skin invisible, wouldn’t it be cool to see how all those internal organs fit inside you? Even as big as I am (and in this case I mean tall – lots of room from pelvic floor to collar bones), I think it must be tight quarters in there.

There are specific, whale-sized blood vessels going from the heart to the lungs, but what are they – half an inch long? There’s no room between those two; it’s not like we keep the heart over here in the back forty and the lungs are down by the lake. No, they’re all mashed in there, inside the same rib cage. It MUST be super-crowded.

Of course, maybe all the organs are like puppies, and they LONG to be all muggled in together, one’s fuzzy belly utterly covering the other’s tiny nostrils. Everyone not just surviving but exuding waves of bliss for the clumping together of brothers and sisters.

MY POINT, and I’m sure I had one when I started, is that I was working with Grace at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, VA. She said “Puuuullllll for this movement, from deep inside your core.”

Pressed, she finally named the muscle she was going for (although it took some digging; I think most people aren’t as excited to visualize The Invisible Human the way I am and trainers are careful not to use the Latin identifiers that so delight me.)

“Your transverse abdominus – that’s what you’re going for.”

Every muscle in me went slack at the words; I stopped trying completely and swiveled to her.

“Transverse abdominus? What’s that? Where is it? What does it connect to? When do I use it?”

(I can’t help but be thrilled with this stuff. I’m 57 years old and have been moving for all of those years – apparently using a muscle group I have never even heard of. What an amazing thing the body is!)

Overwhelmed by my badgering questions, Grace looked around. Because People Who Know are thick on the ground at Body Dynamics, she was able to grab Patrick (that’s Dr. Patrick Suarez to you, nattily dressed for “tropical shirts to honor Puerto Rico” day), who, upon being asked for an impromptu dissertation on the transverse abdominus, agreeably dropped whatever else he was doing and immediately whipped out a computer for a visual aid.

Then Gwynn happened by – the extraordinary therapeutic masseuse who’s already taught me so much about my own muscles. She saw the early stages of a Nerd Cluster and jumped in, too.

And there we all were, gathered around geeking out over how cleverly the body is put together. I had to grab a phone and take a picture; it just made me so happy. That’s my water bottle in the foreground, representing both me and the unseen Chip, nutritionist extraordinaire.

By the way – the transverse abdominus? If your rib cage had a festive fringe hanging from it like the “fra-gee-lay” lamp in “A Christmas Story,” and then the fringe attached to the back of the body cavity, that would be your transverse abdominus, only really, really deep down. It’s just about the last muscle group you come to if you go in from the front. So, way back there, deep down by the spine.

Without it, you could never look quickly to see what disgusting thing the dog just dropped by your heel. So – a valuable muscle!

Brain trust

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